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THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. 



VOLUME I. 



AMS PRESS 

NEW YORK 




THE PEAK CONQUERED. 



(See vol. ii- p. 59.) 



THE LAND OF BOLIVAR 



WAR, PEACE, AND ADVENTURE 



REPUBLIC OF VENEZUELA. 



JAMES MUDIE SPENCE, F.R.G.S. 



MEMBER OF THE ALPINE CLVB. 




asaitf) iWaps anU Illustrations. 
/N TWO VOLUMES. — Y Oh. I. 



LONDON : 

SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, SEARLE, & RIVINGTON, 

CROWN BUILDINGS, i88 FLEET STREET. 

1878. 

[All rights reserveil.] 



^ 



i^ 



Library of ConKress CataloKinK in Publication Data 

Spence, James Mudie. 
The land of Bolivar. 

Bibliography: p. 

1, Venezuela. I. Title. 
F2308.S74 1973 987' .062 '0924 [b] 78-175995 

ISBN 0-404-06177-X 



Reprinted from the edition of 1878, London 
First AMS edition published in 1973 
Manufactured in the United Stotes of America 

International Standard Book Number: 
Complete Set: 0-404-06177-X 
Volume One: 0-404-06178-8 

AMS PRESS INC. 

NEW YORK, N. Y. 10003 



TO 

THE PEOPLE OF THE 

REPUBLIC OF VENEZUELA, 

BUT MORE ESPECIALLY TO 

THOSE WHOSE EFFORTS ARE DIRECTED TO THE 

REGENERATION OF THEIR COUNTRY, 

THIS WORK 

IS DEDICATED. 



\(»I-. I. 



PREFACE. 



Venezuela lies so much out of the beaten track of 
tourist and traveller, that but little is known in 
Europe of its scenery, its products, or its people. 
A residence of eighteen months in this picturesque 
country, full of mineral wealth, and rich in other 
natural resources, yet almost untrodden by the man of 
science, may perhaps be Considered sufficient apology 
for this attempt to add to the scanty knowledge we 
possess of a land bordering on British Guiana, and 
opposite to Trinidad, and from which, it is more than 
probable, the meat-supply of our West Indian pos- 
sessions must, sooner or later, be derived. 

The materials for this volume were collected by the 
writer during 1871 and 1872, when the Eepublic of 
Venezuela was gliding into peace, after twenty-five 
years of continued civil war and trouble. During his 
residence in the country he was in treaty with the 
Government for several important mining conces- 



viii PREFACE. 

sioDS, which naturally brouglit him into close rela- 
tions with the ruling powers, and afforded him 
opportunities of acquiring accurate information from 
sources not generally accessible. 

His memories of places and of the people are 
of the most vivid and endearing character. In 
many of his excursions the author Avas accompanied 
by the late Senor Ramon Bolet, an artist of great 
promise, whose early death is a matter of sincere 
sorrow. To his pencil are due most of the sketches 
from which the illustrations are taken. The 
remainder are j)rincipally copied from drawings 
made on the spot by Mr. Anton Goering, no less 
eminent as a botanist and ornithologist than as a 
lover of the picturesque. 

The valleys of Caracas, of the Tuy, and of Aragua, 
for richness of soil and luxuriance of vegetation, as 
well as for the natural beauty of their scenery, need 
fear no comparison. Strikingly in contrast with these, 
but no less attractive and beautiful, are the mountain 
ranges. To the Peak of Naiguata, the hio-hest of the 
coast chain, considerable space is devoted in these 
pages to describe the first ascent to its summit. 

Although the author has chiefly confined himself to 
a record of incidents of travel, he has been desirous, 
at the same time, of furnishini;- a general outline and 



PREFACE. ix 

character of this great South American Eepublic. 
The text gives details of its geography, natural his- 
tory, and political constitution, as well as a sketch 
of the War of Independence, and of the successive 
revolutions, ending^ with that which seated the 
government of General Guzman Blanco firmly in 
power. The Appendix consists of an outline of the 
Colonial administration of Venezuela ; of various 
papers relating to natural history, mineralogy, and 
archaeology ; and of some documents of a more per- 
sonal character. 

To General Nicanor Bolet Peraza, and to General 
Leopoldo Terrero, the author is indebted for much 
information ; by Dr. A. Ernst of Caracas, he has been 
supplied with a considerable amount of scientific 
data; and Mr. William E. A. Axon, M.R.S.L., has 
rendered most valuable aid, from his familiarity with 
the language and history of Spanish America. 



" Sf 3 ^aue bene tttefl, & af f^c fieri) rcquircb, it if tiji 
tiling t:^at 3 befiveb : but if 3 I)aue [pollen flcnberlt) 
& Bareli), it if t^at 3 couib." 

— II. Maccabees xv. 39. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

THE VOYAGE OUT. 

(February, 1871.) 

Departure — The " Seine " — Passing the Azores — Pico — A night 
of horrors — Sombrero — Virgin Islands — Bay of St. Thomas 
— Quarantine — The escape — Leeward and Windward Islands 
— St. Kitts — Redonda — Barbadoes — Sugar — A week's pur- 
gatory — The " Cuban " — Off " Tierra Firme " — Arrival at 
La Guayra— The Aduana — "Hotel Neptuno" — Origin of 
La Guayra — A hot story — Description of the port — Break- 
water — Plaza or Alameda — Church of St. Juan de Dios — 
— The road to the capital — Arrival at Cardcas . Pages 1-23 



CHAPTER n. 

CARACAS : CHURCHES, STATISTICS, AND SPANISH IDIOMS. 

(March, 1871.) 

The British Consulate — Hotel Saint Amand — A Cardcas merchant 
— Petty annoyances engendered by civil war^" Alto ! quieu 
vive ?" — Caracas : Climate, Situation, Churches and Popula- 
tion — Vital statistics — University of Cardcas — The Cathe- 
dral — St. George and the maggots — " La Iglesia de la 
Santisima Trinidad " — Extra-mundane generosity — The 
miraculous image — The legend of " El Cerrito del Diablo " 
— Cock-fighting — "El Casino" — An old acquaintance — The 
farm of Blandin— A visit to the Minister of Foreign Rela- 



CONTENTS. 



tions — Seuor Antonio Leocadio Guzman — Episode in the 
life of the Minister — A Brazilian Envoy Extraordinary — A 
canal scheme to unite the rivers Amazon and Orinoco — 
Guanape — Maiquetia — Exports from La Guayra — " La 
Ij,'lesia de la Santisima Caramba ! " — Priests — Jesuitical 
casuistry — Dilliculties of learning Spanish — Idioms . Payes 24-45 

CHAPTER III. 

GEOGRAPHY : NATURAL, PHYSICAL, AND POLITICAL HISTORY. 

PART I. 

Agustin Codazzi — The Country — Its limits, area, sea-board, 
mountains, rivers, and climate — The three zones — Vege- 
tation — Metals and minerals — Cattle-breeding — Zoology — 
Population — Anthropology — Abolition of slavery — Equa- 
lity — Form of government — Powers of the President — 
"Alta Corte Federal" — Revenues — Religion — Religious 
liberty— National defences — Education — Commerce — Smug- 
gling — Public debt — States of Bolivar, " Guzman Blanco," 
Guarico, and Carabobn Pages 46-61 



CHAPTER IV. 

GEOGRAPHY : NATURAL, PHYSICAL, AND POLITICAL HISTORY. 

PART II. 

States of Nueva Barcelona and Cumana — Caves of the Guach- 
aros — States of Maturin, Nueva Esparta, Yaracuy, Barqui- 
simeto, Coro, and Zulia — Lake of Maracaybo — The States 
of Trujillo, Merida, Tachira, Zamora, and Portugueza — 
Province of Apure — The Llanos of Venezuela — Province of 
Guayana — Poisoned arrows — Indian love task — Ciudad- 
Bolivar Page^ 62-82 



CHAPTER V. 

EXCURSION TO THE COAL DISTRICT OF NUEVA BARCELONA. 

(April, 1S71.) 

Black diamonds — A miserable steamer — Inauguration of a cam- 
paign against Civil War — Arrival at Barcelona — Tlie port — 
The Monagas family — "La Casa Fuerte " — A narration of 



CONTENTS. 



Spanish atrocities — " Corona de Sangre" — The quack doctor's 
fever remedy — Commerce, area, population, agriculture, 
and rivers of the State — Caribe Indians: origin, dress, 
habits, and gradual extermination of the race — Church of 
San Cristobal — A rich collection of sacred relics — " Agua 
Providencial de Potentini " — A ride through the cotton- 
growing district — Estimated possible prodiiction of the 
whole state — Valleys of the Neveri and Naricual — The 
coal district — Outcrops of mineral — Route of proposed 
railway — Trial of the coal — The Holy Week Procession — 
Jesus IMaria Jose Juan Dios Domingo Perez — Discovery of a 
new harbour — Entertainment at Posuelos — " Las balas no 
conocen d nadie ! " Pa^/es 83-105 



CHAPTER VI. 

RESroENCE IN CARACAS. 

(April-Mat, 1871.) 

The President of the Republic, General Antonio Guzman Blanco 
— Portrait of the President — Down with yellow fever — Grand 
political celebrations — Feeding the multitude — Ministerial 
and military ball — The leading citizens "at home" — La 
Seiiora Elena Echanagucia de Hahn — A curious custom at 
balls — " Club Union " — " Circulo de Amigos " — A breakfast 
at Bonfante's — A round of invitations — Reflections on the 
financial state of the country — Cotton factory at Los Adjuntos 
— '' El hombre de hierro " — " The Englishman may pass ! " 
— Arrest of a Minister — Insult to the " Stars and Stripes." 

Pages 106-121 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE. 

(1800- 1 830.) 

Simon Bolivar becomes a patriot — Blockade of the coast of 
" Tierra Firme" — The tricolour — All disputes referred to the 
arbitration of the sword — The Royalists victorious — Triumph 
of the Patriots — The wretch Zuazola — Spanish enormities — 
Slaves manumitted by Bolivar — Patriotic heroism — Paez 
takes Barinas — The "gang of Apure " — Spanish gun-boats 
captured l)y cavalry — Llanero military tactics — Battle of 



CONTENTS. 



Quesaras del Medio— Morillo, the Spanish general, proposes 
an armistice— Battle of Carabobo— The British Legion— 
The Spaniard driven from the land— Conduct of Paez — Dis- 
memberment of Colombia— Bolivar resigns the presidency 
— Ilis country's ingratitude — He dies at Santa Marta — 
Verses on the death of Bolivar .... Pages 122-1^7 



CHAPTER VIII. 

MODERN HISTORY — CIVIL WAR. 

(1830-1870.) 

The two political parties — Personal ambition of Paez and its 
results — Honours to the mighty dead — Stuffing the ballot- 
boxes, introduced into Venezuela — The election of A. L. 
Guzman as president nullified — Negro emancipation — War 
of the Federation — Biography of Antonio Guzman Blanco — 
He joins the Federalists, reorganises their army, and leads it 
to victory — He visits Europe to raise a loan — Election of 
Falcon for President — Guzman Blanco, Vice-President — 
Triumph of the Blues — Persecution of the Yellows — Attack 
on the house of Guzman Blanco — He escapes to Curazao — 
His return— He takes Cardcas, and becomes {provisional) 
President of the Republic Pajfes 138-150 



CHAPTER IX. 

A DRIVE THROUGH THE VALLEYS OF ARAGUA. 

(June, 1871.) 

A too early start — " Compagnon de voyage" — The road to Los 
Teques — Coffee and sugar estates — " Fiesta de Corpo Cristo " 
— Victoria — La Quebrada sugar estate — Self-sacrifice, a 
reminiscence of the great war — Native troops in marching 
order — San Mateo — El Saman de Giiere tree — Maracay — 
Lake of Tacarigua — " The garden of the world " — Bad roads 
— Valencia — Interview with the President — Agricultural 
data — Cost of civil war — " Our ancestors " — Sugar-cane — 
Dr. R. Arvelo — Cheap fare in Valencia — Crossing the moun- 
tains — On the coast — Arrival at Puerto-Cabello — The 
double passport— Return to Gardens . . . Pajres 1 51-174 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER X. 

IMMIGRATION — EARTHQUAKES — CUSTOMS. 

(June-August, 1871.) 

The Maguey plant — Immigration — Anecdote of a German emi- 
gration agent — Tacasuruma — Attractions for settlers — Views 
of the President on the Barcelona harbour and coal project 
— Independence Day in Cardcas — Postal regulations — The 
alienated mail-bags — Stirring events in the life of a Yankee 
acquaintance — Bogley the Recorder, a tale of revenge — 
"Viva el General Bruzual!" — The rainy season — Earth- 
quakes — " Las Mariquitas" — " Dias de compleanos " Pages 175-189 

CHAPTER XL 

EXPEDITION TO THE ISLANDS OF LOS ROQUES. 

(August-September, 187 i.) 

An early morning intruder — A quick drive to La Guayra — The 
Caribbean Sea from the heights — A backwoodsman's first 
view of the ocean — Conjectures of the natives as to the ob- 
jects of the expedition — The "Venus" — Sleeping quarters 
— Captain Taylor — A trance — A true Sabbath — Cayo de 
Sal — The Los Roques group of islands — Salt pans — Census 
of Cayo Grande — The thirsty cooper — Fishermen — The 
Captain in his role of literary critic — Arrival at El Gran 
Roque — Topography of the island — Harbour — Preliminary 
survey — Boye's narratives of shipwrecks — Rats — Phosphate 
deposits — Animal life — Flora — Intense heat and its effects 
— A sail round the island — Phosphates collected — Prepara- 
tions to leave — The challenge — Boy6 turns tail on us — A 
terrible storm — Off the reefs — Narrow escape — Excitement 
of the captain — The " Venus " beaten — The Sea-serpent — 
Turtle hunting — Arrival at La Guayra . . Pages igo-2 14 

CHAPTER XII. 

NATIONAL EDUCATION — CURRENCY — WORKING CLASSES. 

(September-Novembek, 1 87 1.) 

Rumours of war — Mixed currency — Change for a pound sterling 
— Caracas flooded — The American Minister — Interview with 
the President — National education — Opening of a new school 



CONTENTS. 



— II.M.S. " Racoon" visits LaGuayra — The officers in Cardcas 
— CrossinfT the coast range of mountains — An eccentric 
British Minister — Wliy Venezuela is slandered abroad — 
Honesty of the lower orders — " Fiesta de Los Mucrtos" — 
Longevity extraordinary Par/fs 2 1 5-226 



CHAPTER XIII. 

EXCURSION TO THE VALLEYS OF THE TUY. 
PART I. — DISTRICT OF CHARALLAVE. 

(November, 1871.) 

Passports — Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul — A traveller's 
Spartan store of provisions — On the road — "A goods train" 
in motion — The Patroness — Coche — Turmerito — Campo 
Alegre — Bridge of Falcon — "Pozo de los Pajaros" — "Tucu- 
siapon" — Lovera's estate of Guayabo — The party regaled 
with San Cocho — Analysis of the national dish — Charallave 
— Hard fare — Taking stock of the district — Bad farming- 
Road making — The Tuy Valley — Achiote trees — A military 
chiefs courtesy — Military exigencies — The Englishman and 
his donkey — " My daughter! ! My daughter ! " Pages 227-240 



CHAPTER XIV. 

EXCURSION TO THE VALLEYS OF THE TUY. 
PART II. — DISTRICTS OF CUA, OCUMARE, AND TACATA. 

(November, 187 i.) 

Cua — Too much garlic — Ringing the changes on beef — A fine 
cacao estate — Indigo cultivation — Produce of the Cua dis- 
trict — Rich pasturage — "La Teja" — General Pedro Conde — 
"Queso de manos" — Cheap estate on the Llanos — Ocumare 
del Tuy — A night in a Catre — "Paseo" in the mountains — 
Leseur's plantations — Coffee picking — Invitation to settle in 
the Tuy — Produce of the Ocumare district — Return to Cua 
— The start for Altagracia — Adieu to civilization — Tacata — 
Office of the Jefe Civil — A mule's intelligence — A Tacata 
merchant prince — Stock taking — Ostentatious display of 
table linen — Lisboa's disgust — A horrid banquet — Sovereign 
consternation of the landlord — The citizens summoned — 
Altagracia — Paracoto — Return to Caracas . . Pages 241-257 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER XV. 

CIVIL WAR — MISSIONARY EFFORTS — ORCHIDS. 

(December- January, 1871-1872.) 

Revolt of the Blues — Apostasy of Salazar — War in Trujillo 
— Capture of Ciudad-Bolivar by the Blues — Flight of the 
President of Guayana — Fall of San Fernando — The troops 
of the Cordillera restore Trujillo to the Government — Guz- 
man Blanco in person takes the field — The Grand Army of 
the Apure — Advance on San Fernando — " El Chingo Olivo " 
— Plan of the battle — The Yellows victorious — Retreat of 
the remnant of the Blues — General Joaquin Crespo sent in 
pursuit — Annihilation of the fugitives — Life in Caracas — 
Official civility — Economic and scientific collection — Or- 
chids — Tiger skins — New birds — A valuable relic — " My 
Book" — Senorita Loria Brion — Protestantism at a discount 
— An amateur evangelist — Death of the President's mother 
— Popular excitement in the capital — The Danish Minister 
sets a good example to his compeers . . . Pages 258-27: 



CHAPTER XVI. 

GOVERNMENT COMMISSION TO THE ISLAND OF ORCHIL A. 

(January, 1872.) 

Islands of the Republic — Resort of smugglers — Decrees — Scien- 
tific commission sent to Orchila — American Guano Com- 
pany's concession — Commission reports breach of contract 
— The Minister of Public Works heads a second expedition 
— Invitation to accompany it — Departure from Caracas — 
Abortive attempts at joviality — Arrival at La Guayra — 
Human freight list of the "Porteiia'' — Sufferings of the 
passengers — Oft' Orchila — "El Bahia de Nuevo Napoles" 
— Explorations by moonlight — Phosphate deposits — 
" Ladrones " — Cayo El Dorado — The Philadelphia Guano 
Company's establishment — How the deposits are worked — 
Quantity of mineral exported — Seasons — Climate — BirdS' — 
Fish — The Hall of Justice — Tlie victim of the inquisition 
— Portrait of the victim — Double interpreter necessary — 
Examination of tlic victim — The return to the mainland. 

Pa(/es 273-288 



xviii CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

THE VALLEYS OF THE TUY. 

DISTRICTS OF YARE, SANTA TERESA, AND SANTA LUCIA. 

(February, 1872.) 

Early morning observations — Goering's incredible snake encoun- 
ter in Merida — Our old quarters at Ocumare — How coffee i.s 
grown in Venezuela — Indian of the Tuy — Foundation for a 
miracle laid by Goering — A fandango of the peasantry — 
Grand panorama seen from the heights of Marare — A Tuy 
ball — Ethnological types — Guard of honour — A ride through 
the valley — Death of the snake — Anecdote of a dog's sagacity 
— San Francisco de Yare — Military sports — Santa Teresa — 
A rest at Milagro — Santa Lucia — Produce of the district — 
On the road to the capital — The coffee country of Los 
Mariches — Summary of statistical details . . Pa^es 289-310 



CHAPTER XVni. 

PEACE CELEBRATIONS IN THE CAPITAL. 
(Febroart-April, 1872.) 

Caracas mad with excitement — " See the conquering hero comes " 
— The triumphal arch — Peace speech of the victor — Grand 
illuminations — A visit to the chief — Leseur's dinner party — 
Linguistic powers of Englishmen — The merchants entertain 
the President — " Te Deum" in the cathedral — Picnic to Catuche 
— Earthquakes — Death of Padre Blanco, the soldier priest — 
" Semana Santa " — The Venezuelan Press — " Academia 
Espanola." Payes 311-323 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 

VOL. I. 



1. The Peak Conquered 

2. The Port of La Guayra 

3. Portrait of John R. Leseur . 

4. Caracas 

5. Scene on the Lake of Maracaybo 

6. Group of Caribe Indians 

7. Portrait of Antonio Guzman Blanco . 

8. Portrait of Diego Bautista Urbaneja . 

9. Portrait of Simon Bolivar 

10. Portrait of Antonio Leocadio Guzman 

1 1 . Maracay, and the Lake of Valencia 

1 2. A Quiet Spot, near the Lake of Valencia 

1 3. A Coffee Plantation in the Valleys of Aragua 

14. A Bridge on the Mountain Road to the Coast 

15. River Borburata, near Puerto-Cabello 

16. Cayo de Sal 

17. Mosquito Cayo ....... 

1 8. Portrait of L. C. Boye 

1 9. Interior of Boye's House ..... 

20. Sunset from the North-East Corner of the Island 

of El Gran Roque 

21. The Cascaile " Pozo de los Pajaros" 



Frontispiece. 

To face page 16 

27 

To face page 29 

To face page 70 

91 
107 
118 
123 
141 
158 
face page 161 
162 
171 

173 
197 
199 
203 

205 

210 
231 



7'o 



LIST 01' JLLUSTRATJONS. 



PAGE 

11. Taciilii 251 

23. Musicians Playing Native Instruments .... 256 

24. Shipping Orchids from the Hotel, Saint Amand . 264 

25. The New Bird, Lochmias Sororia 266 

26. The New Uiril, Crypturus Cerviniventria .... 267 

27. American Guano Company's Establishment on Orchila . 282 

28. The Victim of the Inquisition 286 

29. The Incredible Snake Encounter in Merida . . . 291 

30. Indian and Dogs, of the Tuy 296 

31. Jos6 Carmen de Ocumare 300 

32. " Flor del Tuy " 301 

33. Death of the Snake 303 

34. The Triumphal Arch 313 

35. Illuminations on the Plaza de Bolivar . . 2'u face page 314 

36. Rio Catuche 316 



MAPS AND PLANS. 

1 . Map of Venezuela To face page i 

2. Map of the Los Roques Group of Islands . . . „ 193 

3. Plan of the Battle of Apure „ 260 

4. Plan of the Island of Orchila ,. 278 



M \ I' () I 
THE REPUBLIC OF ( 

VENEZUELA 

SOUTH AiMEHKA 



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THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. 



CHAPTER I. 

THE VOYAGE OUT. 

My voyage to Venezuela, although undertaken chiefly 
to benefit my health, impaired by overwork, had also 
an ulterior object, and that was, to look out for any 
valuable mineral deposits which the islands skirting 
the coast might contain. Having spent years of adven- 
ture in California and Arizona, after a lengthened stay 
in Europe, the desire to wander westward again pos- 
sessed me, and I was delighted with the prospect of 
going to a land that had been for twenty-five years 
the scene of almost uninterrupted civil war. The 
condolences of my friends were freely offered, for 
Venezuela had for some time been discredited in 
English eyes, and many reports detrimental to it 
were in circulation. The ignorance respecting the 
country was so universal, that the capital was only 
known to the average Englishman by the advertise- 
ments of " Fry's Caracas Cocoa ; " whilst a British 
Minister, once accredited there, is said to have spent 
two years in a vain search for his destination. 

VOL. I. A 



2 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. i. 

I left Southampton on the 3d of February 1871 by 
the " Seine," one of the last of the dear old expen- 
sive "ocean-going" paddle-steamers. These safe and 
comfortable boats have, in the march of progress and 
improvement, given way to the rakish, rolling, rol- 
locking screw, unsafe and uncomfortable, the veritable 
steam sea-serpent of the nineteenth century. Economy 
being the order of the day, it is not to be expected 
that ships which burn eighty tons of coal in twenty- 
four hours will be tolerated, even though they are the 
best sort of sea-boats in " dirty weather," when it has 
been practically proved that this quantity can be 
" screwed " down to thirty tons. 

Most passengers are very proud of being on friendly 
terms with the captain, but those who are wise will 
cultivate the acquaintance of the head-steward, and 
thus add greatly to their own enjoyment. Our cap- 
tain — Moir, of the "Trent" affair — although a strict 
disciplinarian, was able not only in a masterly manner 
to manage his ship, but found time to see that the 
helpless passengers intrusted to his care were made 
as happy as possible, which is more than can be said 
of every captain in the service of the Royal Mail 
Company. Owing to his genial good-nature, all on 
board went "merry as a marriage bell." On the 
quarter-deck, " weather permitting," young and old 
every evening (accompanied by the carpenter and his 
classical fiddle), with dance and song, chased the 
flying hours. 

On the sixth day out we sighted the Azores or 
Western Islands, those grand sentinels of the Atlantic, 



Chap, i.] THE AZORES OR WESTERN ISLANDS. 3 

which, rooted in raid-ocean, raise their proud heads 
above the almost infinite expanse of waters, and seem 
to separate the hemisphere which has had its day, 
from its more juvenile competitor in the west. The 
snow- tipped summit of Pico glittered white and 
brilliant in the sunshine, whilst all below it w^as 
wrapped in dark masses of clouds which moved along 
the side of the mountain. The height of Pico is 76 1 3 
feet. 

The want of occupation is apt to make long voyages 
very dull, but fortunately I had plenty of employ- 
ment, for, with the aid of Ollendorff's " Spanish 
Method," I managed to fill up all spare moments. 

The only incident which disturbed the even tenor 
of my way on board the " Seine," was one that left a 
very vivid impression on my mind. We were near- 
ing the tropics, and the sea, in its calm stillness, had 
put on that painted-ocean appearance so common in 
these latitudes. The air had been hot and sultry, 
and the deck above the grand saloon (as if to prove 
the fallacy of science in doggedly insisting that wood 
is a bad conductor of caloric), was dealing down, with 
profuse liberality, the accumulated heat absorbed 
during a long and cloudless day. Dining at five 
o'clock in the afternoon, under such circumstances, 
assumed the character of a strictly formal ceremony, 
and in consequence, as night drew on, a stiff appetite 
developed itself. It was appeased by the demolition 
of innumerable sandwiches ; and a walk on deck, 
solaced by the narcotic weed so much used as a time- 
killer, closed the evening. Soon after I was com- 



4 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. i. 

fortably ensconced in my berth, and in a few minutes 
entered dreamland. 

My sleep was heavy, but a crashing blow on the 
vessel's side partly restored me to consciousness. 
The concussion seemed to have driven a hole in the 
ship, and the gurgling, rushing sound, made by the 
water as it forced its way in, was fearfully distinct. 
Spellbound and breathless I listened ; backwards and 
forwards outside my cabin door went hurried foot- 
steps. The commotion increased ; loud and stern 
were the voices of the officers giving orders ; then for 
a moment all was still, the big engines having ceased 
their action. The boiler fires had been put out. Door 
after door of the adjoining state-rooms was opened, 
and terror-stricken passengers poured forth, and were 
heard anxiously discussing the fearful news that the 
vessel w^as gradually sinking. I made prodigious 
efforts to rise, but could not ; to shout, but failed. 
At intervals the voice of the carpenter, who had been 
sent into the hold to guage the depth of water, echoed 
through the ship, as inch by inch, he announced its 
dreadful progress. The pumps were started, but they 
availed nothing to stem the inrushing flood. All 
below was now deserted, and the deck was crowded 
with passengers and crew. One after another the 
lifeboats were lowered, eagerly occupied, and steered 
away from the ship. The water surged under my 
cabin floor. How soon, alas, would it reach my 
berth 1 My power of hearing was terribly acute. 
The last boat, in charge of the captain, was leaving 
the doomed ship ; and as the splash of oars and the 



Chap, i.] NOCTURNAL DESPAIR. 5 

voices of the men died away in the distance, my 
agony became intense. My limbs were powerless, 
my tongue refused utterance ! A profound stillness 
now reimed. Death — grim death stared me in the 
face ; and such a death, abandoned aud alone on a 
wide waste of waters ! 

The ever- envious flood now stole up the sides of 
my state-room, while seconds seemed 3'ears, minutes 
an eternity. It rose till it reached my berth ; it 
touched my face, and receded to the fore part of my 
cabin ; the ship was making its final plunge into the 
dark waters of its ocean grave. The horrors of that 
moment, the paralysing agony of being chained to 
death, the terrors of the unfathomed deep, into whose 
yawning vortex I was hurriedly descending — all that 
was dreadful and cruel in such a fate I there ex- 
perienced ! 

At last the pent-up agony burst forth, and with 
a desperate struggle against the impending doom, I 
awoke ! 

" Merciful heavens ! " cried I, " is this a dream ? " 

It was indeed ! Mornino- was dawnino;. The 
sailors were already scrubbing the decks. The thud 
of the water from the hose-jDipe falling on the roof 
above, and a few drops that had trickled through 
the planks upon my face, accounted for the fearful 
nightmare which had possessed me. 

Sleep had fled, but it was not until the steward 
came in to say that my bath was ready that my 
equanimity was restored. 

At a later date, this " terror of the night," in one 



THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. 



of his darksome prowliugs, again attempted to vic- 
timise me, but the effort was vain. 

On the 1 8th instant we came in sight of the 
island of Sombrero, on which there is a lighthouse,* 
and large works for the extraction of pliosphate of lime. 
Extensive beds of this mineral formerly existed here. 
The surface crop having become extinct, the present 
supply is obtained by divers from a depth of from 
twenty to thirty feet. In consequence of the exhaus- 
tion of the superficial deposits, the property was con- 
sidered to be of comparatively little value, and only 
fetched in the London market £\ 10,000 ! The ships 
loading showed that there was some business being 
done. 

At noon the same day we passed in quick suc- 
cession several groups of the Virgin Islands. These, 
although not ill-favoured, were destitute of those 
blooming graces the name would lead one to expect. 
The change of season from tropical moisture to con- 
tinual aridity, in this part of the Antilles, is altering 
the character of these isles ; once fertile and luxuriant, 
they are now almost bare and barren. 

In the evening the "Seine" anchored in the bay of St. 

* On a subsequent voyage to the West Indies, we had an example of 
the foreknowledge of modern nautical science. We had passed over 
the broad Atlantic without seeing a speck of land, when one clear 
starlight night, as I walked the deck with the Captain (Commodore 
Revett of the "Nile" S.S.), he said, "We must have Sombrero light 
now." Sweeping the horizon with a powerful glass, there was no beacon 
to be seen ; but sending a man aloft, he at once cried out, " Light off the 
port bow." The vessel's course was never changed. As though drawn 
by a magnet, she had gone straight to the spot. What would the old 
navigators, painfully groping their way, have tliought of such a feat ? 



Chap, i.] QUARANTINE. 



Thomas. It is a beautifully secluded spot, — too much 
so indeed — for it seemed as if no breeze of heaven 
could gain access to it ; and it is here that the almost 
vertical and burning rays of a tropical sun often 
generate disease and death. On approaching the 
harbour two guns were fired from the " Seine," and 
presently a boat, bearing the Danish flag, and man- 
ned by six sturdy negroes, brought the health officer 
alongside. After a brief conversation with our captain 
and doctor, he pulled ofl'; and immediately after- 
wards the yellow flag was run up to the masthead, 
and, to the consternation of all the passengers, the un- 
pleasant truth flashed out that one of the ship's petty 
officers was down with smallpox. In consequence 
we were all condemned to the horrors of quarantine. 
Cut off" from all communication with the town, 
except by fumigated dispatches quickly interchanged 
between the " Seine " and a shore-boat, we felt that 
we were harshly treated. There was not the slightest 
appearance of an epidemic ; the man who was bad had 
come on board ill, but the disease had not spread. 
He, the only person who had the smallpox, was 
landed, whilst all the sound and healthy ones were 
deprived of that privilege. Those who were going no 
further than St. Thomas did penance in a hulk out- 
side the harbour ; but, happily for them (as we after- 
wards learned), before the expiration of the official 
term of their imprisonment, the poor unfortunates 
were liberated by their gaol-house drifting on shore 
during a heavy gale. The remainder escaped in 
various colonial boats, and these having received 



8 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. i. 

clearance papers before the arrival of the " Seine," 
could not be detained. The poor fellow who was the 
cause of our distress died in a very short time after 
landing. Some of the passengers repented greatly 
of the imprecations they had heaped upon the head of 
the Governor of St. Tliomas, when they learned that 
he was found dead in his bath a few days afterwards.'"" 
Although there were several courses open to me to 
get to La Guayra, they were all alike inconvenient. 
There was no possibility of making the voyage in 
comfort ; the best that could be aimed at was to hit 
upon the least evil. One way was to go into qua- 
rantine, and then take the next packet from St. 
Thomas to La Guayra; but human nature could 
scarcely endure the prospect of fifteen days' imprison- 
ment in a hulk, minus the consciousness of hav- 
ing committed a crime. This was clearly out of the 
question whilst any other course remained open. A 
more agreeable plan suggested itself, which was of 
going by the " Seine " to Santa Marta or Cartagena, 
and attempting to catch one of the steamers trading 
along the coast of the Spanish mainland, from Colon 
en route for the Brazils or Europe. A third plan was 
to proceed to Barbadoes, there to wait for the Liver- 

♦ I visited St. Thomas two years later. It is true that men daily 
bleed and die in the rapid race for riches, but to fully realise what the 
cursed thirst for gold will impel men to endure, it is necessary to see the 
blistered and almost barren rocks of this island, with its " Hispano- 
Dano-Niggery-Yankeedoodle population," who live by petty trafficking 
on its burning sides, undeterred by storm or heat, and having the daily 
prospect of a fate, w'orse than that which overtook the two ancient 
cities now resting deep down beneath the heavy waters of the Dead 
Sea. 



Chap, i.] DECEIVED. 



pool packet bound for the Kepublic ; and this last was 
ultimately adopted, though not decided upon until 
the failure of an attempt to get direct to La Guayra. 
At the London office of the Royal Mail Company it 
was stated that a small steamer waited at St. Thomas 
to take on the Venezuelan j)assengers and mails ; but 
this was false. As other travellers had been served 
in the same manner, it would appear that the Com- 
pany were guilty of systematic deception. The little 
Venezuelan mail-schooner which was there could not 
be persuaded to come alongside, nor could any of the 
trading vessels be induced to do so, although a pre- 
mium of a hundred dollars was ojQfered. 

Having finally decided to proceed to Barbadoes by 
the " Arno," one of the colonial boats of the R. M. 
Company, I gladly took my departure from the Bay 
of St, Thomas on the 20th of February, and we were 
soon steaming inside the crescent of islands form- 
ing the N.E. boundary of the Caribbean Sea. AVe 
passed St. Christopher (St. Kitts) * and Nevis, two 

* Subsequently I had an opportunity of seeing St. Kitts at closer 
quarters during an inspection of the Salt Pond Estate (the property of 
Sir Robert Brisco), which is situated at its south-western extremity. 
As there are no other salt-ponds of value in the island, and, moreover, 
as those on this estate are well known in the Antilles, on account of 
their size and capabilities of production, they are worth a passing notice. 
I quote from a pamphlet of my own : — 

" The largest pond, near the centre of the estate, is about tliree and a 
half miles in circumference, with a superficial area of about 344 acres ; 
and it is here that salt is obtained. This pond, which is called ' Great 
Salt Pond,' is connected by a narrow canal with another pond called 
' Little Salt Pond.' The latter is in direct connection with the sea, 
whence it receives the water, which here becomes primarily concen- 
trated by evaporation, before being allowed to flow into ' Great Salt 
Pond,' where it becomes still more concentrated by the same process, 



10 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. i. 

noted sugar islands, and then on our starboard we 
saw the island of Redonda.* 

and forms a crystal deposit of salt at the bottom of this reservoir, vary- 
ing from two to four inches in thickness, according to climatic changes. 
Each annual inch deposit of salt is computed to yield a crop of 225,000 
barrels, or 25,000 tons. 

I have had a sample of the salt analysed, and the following is the 
result : — 

Chloride of sodium 97*84 

Sulphate of soda -36 

Water 1-68 

Total 99-88 

It will thus be seen that the salt is almost absolutely pure." 

* I visited Redonda on the 29th of May 1873, going there in a 
schooner kept to supply the mineral phosphate workers thereon with 
provisions and tools. It is one of the Leeward Islands, situated in lat. 
i6*55 N. and long. 62*23 W. It is a "high, round, barren, uninhabited 
rock," rising into five peaks, of which the two highest are in the centre. 
To the sea it presents the most dreary aspect, its sides being formed of 
frowning precipices and yawning chasms. It is almost inaccessible, and 
a very dangerous place for vessels from the lack of any shelter in 
case of a hurricane. Rising steeply from the deep, it attains a height of 
about 800 feet. The length of the island is about three-quarters of a 
mile, and its greatest breadth about one-eighth of a mile. Vegetation is 
very scanty ; so rare are plants and flowers, that one might almost call 
its flora non-existent. The fauna is more extensive, though it comprises 
only birds (of which there are four to five species), lizards, iguanitas, and 
some other creeping things after their kind. There isan artificial landing- 
place at the south-west corner. To reach the summit of the little bit 
of tableland on which is the establishment for the workmen, it is neces- 
sary to scale a ladder of 400 feet. Two wire-ropes have been fixed from 
the top to the watei;-level, on which all material is transported in 
buckets working thereon. Provisions and water sometimes run short 
upon the rock, as everything has to be imported. The hungry looks 
which some of the niggers gave me, caused a slight feeling of tre- 
pidation. 

The mineral found is a phosphate of alumina, extremely rich in iron. 
Ten thousand tons or thereabouts have been exported. The remaining 
portion of the island unworked may possibly contain a like quantity of 
phosphate, but I think this is very doubtful. It exists in small clumps, 
here and there one, chiefly adherent to large stones, which have to be 
removed before the precious deposit can be reached. They yield from 



Chap, i.] MARTINIQUE. 11 

During the night we called at Guadeloupe to dis- 
charge mails and passengers ; and by daylight next 
morninsf were near the island of Dominica, which is 
one of the loveliest in the West Indies. Its hilly 
sides have a wild appearance, but right to their 
summits the eye ever and anon rests upon patches 
of cultivated land. The sugar-cane, the cocoa, the 
orange-tree, and shrubs of tropical foliage, are the 
chief objects of interest, and add, by their grace of 
form and colour, to the beauty of the landscape. 

After a brief stay we proceeded to Port St. Pieri-e, 
Martinique, a town of 35,000 inhabitants, called, and 
justly so, the " Paris of the Antilles." We saw the 
French mai! -steamer going into Port Koyal disabled, as 
the Windward Islands had been visited by a very heavy 
gale. At this place there are large docks pertaining to 
the naval station. Martinique is one of the very few 
colonial possessions belonging to our good neighbours 
beyond the Channel, and, unlike most of their colonies, 
is rich and fertile, yielding large and profitable crops 
of sugar-cane, the staple product of the island. Cofi"ee 
also is largely cultivated. The epicures of Paris 
consider that the greatest perfection in that delicious 

half a ton to three tons each, and the method of transport of this mate- 
rial from one part of the rock to the other is as primitive as it is barbar- 
ous. After being put into boxes, boys carry it upon their heads ; in some 
cases it has to be dumped and reloaded four or five times. Each gang 
of tliese poor creatures is under the control of an overlooker, who has 
tlie help of a slave-driver's whip in keeping them up to their work! 

Two large chemical firms in the North of England, have been 
"cleaned out" of ;^ioo,ooo, in vain attempts to utilise the wretched 
mineral taken from the meagre deposits of this poverty-stricken place, 
although, as is too usual in adventures of tliis nature, the agents or 
middle men were not left without their profit ! 



12 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. i. 

beverage is obtained by mixing three parts of Mocha 
witli one of green Martinique.* 

The next day we ancliored oflf tlie town of Bridge- 
town, the capital of Barbadoes, wliere it was neces- 
sary to wait the arrival of the steamer for La Guayra. 
As far as my limited experience goes, I cannot do 
better than endorse what has been said about the 
people and products of Barbadoes by Trollope. That 
charming writer observes : " Let us say what we will, 
self-respect is a fine quality, and the Barbadians 
certainly enjoy that. It's a very fine quality, and 
generally leads to respect from others. They who have 
nothing to say for tliemselves will seldom find others 
to say much for them. I therefore repeat what I 
said at first. Barbadoes is a very respectable little 
island ; and considering the limited extent of its 
acreage, it does make a great deal of sugar." 

My time there was spent in the most aimless 
manner, and the dolce far 7iiente is apt to pall upon 
one's taste ; though, with the weather so intensely 
oppressive as it was in Bridgetown, there was every 
inducement for idleness, and nothing to incite me 
to industry. The mild excitement of watching a 
military cricket-match, or of seeing the daily pro- 
menade of the colonial aristocracy whilst the band 

* " The population of Martinique is 135,991. About 9400 are whites, 
1 10,000 negroes and coloured persons, 7800 African emigrants, 8000 
Indians, and 800 Chinese. The size of the island is 98,782 hectares. Of 
this, 19,565 are devoted to sugar, 515 to coflee, 24 to cotton, 330 to 
cacao, 6 to tobacco, and 12,051 to that of native food staples — altogether, 
34,491 hectares. The gross value of the culture is 14,585,998 francs ; 
the cost, 7.292,999 francs ; the nett profit, 7,292,999 francs. The value 
of the capital employed is 78,141,860 francs." 



Chap, i.] BARBADIAN PRESUMPTION. 13 

was playing in the square, scarcely sufficed to pre- 
serve one from tristeza. Whilst on the " Arno," many 
kind invitations were offered me by Barbadian pas- 
sengers to visit their plantations, and I certainly ex- 
pected to have been called upon by some of them 
during my week's stay at the Albion Hotel (the 
name does not involve any compliment to England) ; 
but once a Barbadian reaches home, he is too much 
occu^^ied with sugar to think of anything else. 

The products of Barbadoes are molasses, rum, sugar, 
and negroes, but principally the two last. The density 
of the population will be understood from the fact that 
this little island contains a thousand inhabitants to 
every square mile, whilst Great Britain and Ireland, 
not generally considered to be very sparsely populated, 
have only 250. Barbadoes offers facilities greater 
that any other place under the sun for the study of 
sugar and negroes, but for anything else of interest 
to humanity, the trav^eller will seek in vain. The 
people of this island give it the name of "Little 
Britain," which is rather presumptuous on the part of 
a community who have no ideas beyond the culture 
of sugar-canes. There is also a mock modesty in the 
name, for it has been truly said that, in their own 
estimate of relative importance, Barbadoes is repre- 
sented by a hogshead of sugar, the West Indies by 
a pumpkin, and all the rest of the world by a pea. 
The population of Barbadoes is about 1 50,000 ! 

There was plenty of ice to be had, which was the 
only thing that made the place inhabitable to 
Europeans. My attempts to see more of the island 



14 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. i. 

were attended with disaster. The ouly coach iu the 
town was hired for an excursion, but after two break- 
downs the project was relinquished in despair. 

English, of a sort, is spoken by the uneducated 
whites of Barbadoes, but it is totally incomprehen- 
sible to those who are accustomed to the language of 
Britain. 

Sugar, in its varied ramifications, forms the social, 
moral, political, and religious question ever upper- 
most for public and private discussion, and if a man 
cannot talk sugar, he is there condemned to perpetual 
silence. 

Sugar-lands are sold at the rate of about ^loo per 
acre. Most of the plantations are heavily mortgaged 
to the exporters, who practically control the trade. 
Many persons bear the name and assume the dignity 
of planters, but enjoy very little of the sweets of the 
business, as their estates are mostly, by mortgage and 
debt, under the thumb of the merchant, who thus 
ensures his export trade, and the poor farmer scarcely 
ever gets out of debt, or becomes anything but the 
nominal owner, with the high-sounding title of 
"sugar-planter." During this visit I went to two 
or three sugar-plantations, and had opportunities of 
inspecting the mysteries of the temples dedicated 
to this sacred plant, the god of Barbadian idolatry. 
The process is a very simple one, in which nature 
does a great deal, and science very little. 

On the 28th of February this week of Barbadian 
purgatory came to an end. The method of escape was 
the " Cuban," a steamer belongino: to the West Indian 



Chap, i.] THE STEAMER " CUBAN. " 15 

and Pacific Mail Company. She was a vessel of about 
2000 tons burden, and there was one comfortable 
feature about her not found on all ships, and that was 
the absence of any risk of running against a seaman at 
every hand's turn. Has this paucity of sailors any- 
thing to do with the fact that vessels belonging to 
this Company pretty frequently disappear ? * 

Having no desire to encroach on the domains of 
others, this conundrum shall be left to Mr. PlimsoU. 
These vessels are principally freight-boats, running 
about eight to ten miles an hour, and consuming 
daily from eight to ten tons of coal. 

Steaming westerly, we passed the islands of 
Grenada, Los Testigos, La Sola, and Los Frayles; 
and on the 2d of March came in sight of the continent 
of South America, and arrived at La Guayra the same 
afternoon, but we delayed disembarking on terra 
firma until next morning. 

The first appearance of La Guayra is very striking, 
and at the same time seems to mark the distinction 
between the works of man and those of nature. 



* The Manchester " Evening News " of October 25, 1872, contains the 
following obituary notice of the " Cuban : " — " On Monday last, as the 
West India and Pacific Company's fine steamer ' Cuban,' bound from 
Liverpool to ports in the West Indies, with a full and valuable cargo, 
was entering the port of Barbadoes, her shaft broke, and by some un- 
accounta))le means slipped out of the shaft tunnel, falling into the water. 
Immediately the water rushed into the tunnel, and from thence into the 
engine-room, which was soon filled ; and as the steamer was beginning 
to fill, her captain beached her in 27 feet of water, where she fell over 
on her beam ends, filling completely with water. The ' Cuban ' is an iron 
screw-steamer of 1197 tons, built in Hebburn, by Leslie, in 1865, and 
has two compound engines of 120 horse power. She was commanded 
by Captain G. S. Sandrey." 



16 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. i. 



Rising high from the ocean are the mighty mountains, 
and at their foot rests the town, looking strangely- 
insignificant by contrast with them. As the eye 
dwells upon the entire picture, the little town seems 
to clinsf to the rocks, as though afraid some sudden 
motion might cast it into the sea. One might fancy 
the mountains cruel giants, and La Guayra a pleading 
suppliant clasping their feet. 

I crossed the surf in a boat, and landed at the pier, 
where some little dexterity is required to select a 
favourable spot for making the necessary leap upon 
the shore. Friendly hands were stretched out to 
grasp mine, and I found myself upon the landing- 
stage. This is a handsome covered promenade, full 
of bustle and business, and graced once or twice a day 
by the presence of the belles of the town, when it be- 
comes a perfect garden of beauty. My baggage was 
taken to the Aduana or Custom House, and was soon 
surrounded by a crowd of otficials, who, seeing that 
the new-comer was a foreigner and an Englishman, 
were extremely civil, and took in very good part my 
desperate attempts to utilise the knowledge of Spanish 
which I had " worked up " on the passage. It was a 
great disappointment to find that my very best 
phrases and idiomatic turns, which had been expected 
to excite envy, were not understood ; whilst to com- 
pensate, the revenue-officers talked a dialect of 
Spanish quite unintelligible to me. Seeing that I 
was making very heavy weather of it, a Venezuelan, 
Mr. R. P. Syers, standing by, who had been educated 
in England, came to the rescue, and his friendly 




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Chap, i.] THE ADUANA. 17 

assistance enabled me to arrange matters. All my 
packages were readily passed, except a fowling-piece, 
which was rated at a very high figure, as, in con- 
sequence of the civil war, it was not considered wise 
to encourage the indiscriminate importation of such 
dangerous instruments."^'' 

The Aduana is a two-storied edifice, with walls 
strong and thick enough to be both bomb and 
earthquake proof. Some pretensions to architectural 
efi'ect have been achieved, but its constructors were 
chiefly guided by utilitarian motives. The com- 
modious stores, occupying the whole of the building 
on the ground floor, make it admirably adapted for a 
custom-house. It is situated at an easy elevation 
from the wharf, and connected with it by a tramway. 
Running in front of the building is an awning fixed on 
pillars, rendering its alcoves delightfully cool and 
pleasant. Like most of the large houses, it is built 
in the old Spanish style. In the centre is a gatew^ay, 
by which is gained admittance to the courtyard ; 
round it are the storerooms. A grand staircase leads 
to the upper story, which forms the residence of the 
Aduanero or chief of the custom-house. A suite of 
rooms are set apart for the use of the President when 
he visits the port. The Aduana is a busy place, for 
it is the most important one in the Republic, and its 
able stafi" of ofiicials pass through their hands a large 
quantity of merchandise. This branch of the- public 

* A few days afterwards the gun was sent to me in Cardcas, ac- 
companied by a courteous note from Seiior J. R. Tello, the acting chief of 
the custom-house. A merely nominal import duty had been charged. 

VOL. I. B 



18 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. i. 

service has been greatly improved since the present 
Government came into power. It is the " goldmakers' 
village," where are manufactured the sinews of war. 
To obtain possession of this Aduana has been the 
object of several attempted revolutions. Many a 
restless spirit has had his cupidity excited, and has 
bred disturbances, in order to get the administration 
into his own hands. 

Seeking my way to the Hotel Neptuno, I found it 
to be a large deep straggling building, looking hungry 
enough to eat up all the travellers who ventured near 
it. The entrance from the street is into a courtyard, 
whence numerous staircases lead off, in the most un- 
acountable way, to the various parts of the edifice. 
The number, variety, and intensity of the stenches 
striking the olfactory nerves was truly wonderful. 
They were perhaps interesting from a scientific point 
of view, but somewhat opposed to one's notions of 
comfort. It was indeed vain to think of taking ease 
in such a woe-begone place. It was as picturesque as 
dirt and disorder could make it. Any one thinking 
of keeping an hotel as it should be kept, could not do 
better than inspect this one, and then go and not 
do likewise, but in everything diametrically opposite. 
The Europeans who cater for the guests have no doubt 
found it profitable, but as they offer no qidd pro quo 
to the traveller by and on whom they live, we are 
justified in thus stating the exact truth about their 
caravansary, and our verdict is that of the entire 
Venezuelan travelling public. Whilst at lunch in this 
elegant establishment, I was fortunate enough to make 



Chap, i.] ORIGIN OF LA GUAYRA. 19 

the acquaintance of General Antonio B. Barbosa of 
Nueva Barcelona, whose intimacy was of great service 
to me afterwards. He had travelled in Europe, and 
at once, in recognition of the hospitality of the Old 
World, offered his services to pilot me about until I got 
the bearings of the place. In the evening he took 
me round to visit some of the leading families of the 
town, and first to the house of General Victor 
Rodriguez, where I there had my introduction to 
Venezuelan society. The General was a conspicuous 
actor in the late revolution, and bore upon his person 
indelible proofs of having mingled in the battle fray. 

The town of La Guayra owes its origin to the 
quarrel between an ancient Spanish governor and the 
inhabitants of a now defunct pueblo.^'' Losada, the 
founder of Caracas, in 1568 established the ciudad 
(city) of Caravalleda, to which, shortly afterwards, 
the Spanish Cabinet granted considerable privileges of 
self-government. For eighteen years the city throve 
exceedingly, and was one of the most prosperous in 
the colony; but in 1586 the governor of Venezuela, 
Don Luis de Rojas, a man of tyrannical disposition, 
attempted to arrogate to himself the power of appoint- 
ing its rulers. The remonstrances of the citizens 
were met by force. The magistrates whom he nomi- 
nated soon found themselves in the awkward predica- 
ment of having no one to rule ! 

Rather than submit, the inhabitants had abandoned 
their houses and fields, and wandered off, some to 
Valencia, and others to various parts of the coast. 

* See Appendix A., " Ancient History of Venezuela." 



20 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. i. 

The successor of " el tirano Rojas " endeavoured to 
persuade tlicm back again, but in vain. Afterwards, 
as a port was necessary, the villa of La Guayra was 
founded, and is now the chief port of the Republic in 
commercial importance, although it offers the mini- 
mum of maritime advantages. 

La Guayra is from twenty to thirty feet above the 
sea-level, and has a climate which the natives say is 
calido y sano. On the first point there can be no 
dispute ; La Guayra is certainly one of tlie hottest 
places on earth.'"" As to its healthiness, it has become 
a regular resort of the people of Caracas, who come to 
it for hygienic purposes. 

The port of La Guayra consists of an open road- 
stead, and a coast which makes a slightly tortuous 
curve between Cabo Blanco and Caravalleda. This 
affords no protection against the winds. The east 
appears to be most prevalent. Sometimes the west 
has a turn ; whilst in the rainy season there are, at 
times, veritable hurricanes from the south-west. 

There is a breakwater, which was originally in- 

* Captain Robert TodJ, of the Venezuelan navy, subsequently told 
me that the intense heat of La Guayra had once been very strongly 
impressed upon his mind. He dreamed that the mayordomo of the 
infernal regions was showing liiiu all the ins and outs of the palace of 
perpetual pain, and he found that the common report as to the tropical 
character of its climate, so far from being an exaggeration, fell very 
short indeed of the dread reality. After wandering about for some 
time watching all the torments of the realms of Pluto, they came to a 
room where a group of men were playing cards, and evidently enjoj'ing 
themselves inmiensely. " How is it," asked Todd, " that these are 
looking so cool and comfortable, whilst all the others are suffering such 
burning torture 1 " " They are from La Guayra ! " answered the mayor- 
domo. 



Chap, i.] THE BREAKWATER. 21 



tended for harbour purposes, but unfortunately it is 
on mucli too small a scale to be available in tbat 
way. The contractor was a "smart Yankee," who 
was to be paid when a ship could take shelter behind 
it. One vessel did reach this place of refuge. She 
was the first, and the last ! It is not altogether 
useless, as it serves to break in some measure the 
force of the waves rolling in from the north-east, 
thus facilitating the loading and discharging of the 
lighters at the wharf. An efficient breakwater would 
be very difficult to construct here, owing to the con- 
tinual silting up of the sand. A pier carried out 
into deep water has been suggested, but the eternal 
roll and heavy swell of the mar de leva would prevent 
vessels lying alongside. A steam-crane, with a long 
sweep, placed at the end of the wharf, would be a 
great improvement, and aid very considerably in the 
unloading of boats. The present slow, laborious, 
and dangerous method could then be dispensed with 
entirely. 

The city of La Guayra is traversed by a river 
flowing directly to the sea, and is crossed by bridges 
which are amongst the finest ornaments of the town. 
There is a good covered market of recent construc- 
tion, and four public fountains ; one of these is on 
the Plaza or Alameda, which has a grove of almen- 
drones planted about it. 

There are two churches ; that of San Juan de Dios 
is a modern erection, due to the j)ious enthusiasm of 
recent years. The plans were drawn by a foreign 
engineer, and a creditable amount of interest was 



22 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. i. 

taken in the project by both native and foreign 
residents, who exerted themselves in various ways to 
obtain the money needed for its construction. As a 
hint to church-builders at home, it may be added 
that amongst the various voluntary committees and 
societies organised to help on this good work, was 
one which gave theatrical entertainments in aid of 
the fund. This was, indeed, vindicating the claims 
of the stage as an agent of morality. The theatre 
was thus converted into the handmaid of religion. 
It would, perhaps, be too curious to inquire what 
pieces were played, or if the)^ had any affinity with 
the innocent and edifying dramas so long popular on 
the Parisian boards.^' 

The church of San Juan de Dios, although simple 
in its architectural form, is considered to be one of the 
finest built in the Eepublic during the present century. 

Other important public buildings are the Aduana 
already mentioned, the station for the coastguard, 
and the residence of the captain of the port. There 
are also theatres, a powder magazine; and many forti- 
fications, which have, to a large extent, been aban- 
doned. The prisons of Las Bobedas are well known, 
by sad experience, to many of the political agitators of 

* It may be that it was from a different motive that this theatrical 
aid was accepted. Of old the Jews were told to spoil the Egyptians, 
and of more modern times we have these anecdotes : — " When James 
Russell Lowell, in Italy, asked one who solicited aid, ' Why do you apply 
to a heretic ? ' the answer was, ' Oh, your money is perfectly orthodox.' 
And when an agent of an evangelical college was asked by a fellow- 
believer why he called upon Unitarians with his subscription book, he 
is said to have replied, ' It is always right to take the devil's water to 
turn the Lord's mill ! ' " 



Chap, i.] QUEBRADA DE TIPE. 23 



the Eepublic. The commerce of La Guayra gives the 
town an importance which is gradually transforming 
its aspect ; many public improvements are being 
made, and old buildings replaced by newer and more 
handsome structures. 

My sojourn in La Guayra was very short, owing to 
a natural desire to reach the capital, distant twenty- 
one miles. The coach road to Card,cas is a pictures- 
que mountain- way, skirting one side of the Quebrada 
de Tipe. Its great fault is, that in one place a rise of 
five hundred feet is followed by a descent of the same 
extent ; '" whilst a continued gradual ascent could 
have been made at less cost. With that exception, 
and a few intervals of roughness, the road is a magni- 
ficent piece of engineering, much better than nine- 
tenths of the highways in the United States. It 
was very refreshing, after the intense heat of La 
Guayra, to feel the cool mountain breeze ; but the 
jolting of the coach, over the rough parts of the road, 
took away the keen enjoyment of the beauties of the 
landscape, which would otherwise no doubt have been 
felt. Notwithstanding the exquisite pleasure afforded 
by the glorious views at every turn of the road, it 
was with a feeling of relief that Caracas was at last 
reached, 

* It is said that the engineer of the road was interested in some land 
near the sunamit of the rise. 



CHAPTER II. 

CARACAS : CHURCHES, STATISTICS, AND SPANISH IDIOMS. 

" Why hath man raised to Thee his crumbling temples. 
Which pass away like drifting clouds above, 
When Thy jjure worship was in bright examples 
Of holy Charity, sweet Peace, and Love 1 

" Let man go forth to the primeval forests, 
Their clustered solitudes, their leafy isles, 
And list the voices of Thy feathered chorists, 
Their grateful hymn, in which no art beguiles ! 

" There are meet shrines amid their pomp cathedral, 
And rich mosaics where the reverent knee 
May bend, God, in faithful fervour federal, 
In homage pure, with prostrate heart, to Thee ! " 

Anonymous. 

Leaving England very suddenly, I had not provided 
myself with letters of introduction, but expected some 
to be sent on after me. Mr. R. T. C. Middleton, 
Her Britannic Majesty's Charge d'AfFaires and Consul- 
General (now Resident Minister), to whom I afterwards 
delivered a letter from Lord Granville, gave me much 
information about Venezuela and the Venezuelans, 
having profited by the opportunities afibrded in his 
diplomatic career for obtaining a thorough know- 
ledge of the Spanish character. He was familiar alike 
with Madrid and Mexico, and in the latter republic 



Chap, ii.] THE HOTEL SAINT AM AND. 25 

during the closing scenes of the Maximilian tragedy- 
was the only foreign representative in its capital. 

The consulate and Mr. Middleton's residence were 
both at the Hotel Saint Amand, commonly called by 
the natives ''Posada de los Embajadores," as some- 
times four or five foreign Ministers were to be found 
residing in it. The building was commodious, two 
stories high, and strong enough to present a bold front 
to a first-class earthquake. The eiitrance from the 
street was by a wide portal leading into a courtyard 
or patio, in the centre of which was a little garden 
enclosed by railings, and filled with tropical shrubs 
and plants. The balconies running round the court- 
yard were decorated by the daughter of the landlady, 
with baskets of orchids, and native creepers trained 
to grow along trellis-work. These floral arrange- 
ments displayed much good taste, and added greatly 
to the beauty of the place and to the enjoyment of its 
inhabitants. Facing the main entrance on the first 
floor was the large public dining-room, whilst the 
portion of the balcony immediately above the 
entrance, and in front of the doors of the British 
Legation, formed an open space where the visitors, 
whilst smoking their cigarros and drinking their 
cofi*ee after dinner, had a comfortable lounge. The 
hotel was very well kept, clean and orderly, with 
a good table, and every disposition on the part of the 
landlady and her charming daughter, the demoiselle 
Henrietta St. Amand, to make their guests thoroughly 
comfortable. This place was my headquarters during 
the entire time of my stay in Venezuela, and my 



26 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ii. 

testimony will confirm what has been said by others, 
that it is the best hotel on the Spanish mainland, or 
in the West Indies, the very antithesis of the one in 
La Guayra.* 

My first business was to negotiate some bankers' 
credits, and, on the recommendation of Mr. Middleton, 
I went to the ofiice of Messrs. Leseur, Romer, & Co. 
This is one of the half-dozen leading business houses 
of Caracas ; it has branch establishments in various 
parts of the Republic, and one in Hamburg. I was 
kindly received by Mr. John R. Leseur, tlie senior 
partner, who off'ered me the use of his office, which 
was conveniently situated on the Plaza de Bolivar, 
next to the Government House. This act of courtesy 
I gladly accepted ; and as Leseur was what in Eng- 
land we call a " good fellow," we soon became friends. 
Of European parentage, he was born in the island 
of Curazao, and speaks perfectly five languages. His 
amiable character, uniform courtesy, and sympathetic 
disposition made him popular with every one. Whilst 
keeping clear of the complications of political parties, 
he was the friend of all who were Venezuelans. Few 
men have done so much unobtrusive good in Card,cas. 
After a quarter of a century's residence he had not an 
enemy in the place. Messrs. Gosewisch and Becker, 
junior partners in the house, cordially aided their chief, 
and from them also I received much consideration. 
Under their auspices I became acquainted with the 

* I regret to say that Seiiora St. Amand is since dead, to the grief of 
many who appreciated her kindly disposition ; the daughter is now 
married to the yonng dijilomate of the Naiguata expedition. 



Chap, ii.] CHALLENGE AND COUNTERSIGN. 27 

Secretary of State, and the Minister of War and 
Marine. Both of these high functionaries, in a con- 
versation I had with them, expressed their conviction 
that peace ere long would be restored to the country, 
as the Government was daily gaining in strength 
under the wise statesmanship of the President. 




JOHN R. LESEUR. 



[Events afterwards proved that the final struggle was 
a more protracted one than they expected ; the 
country had to undergo another " baptism of fire," 
before the angel of peace, " with healing in her wings," 
ruled for a period the destinies of the Republic] 
It did not take lonsj to find out the inconveniences 



28 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. (Chap. ii. 



attending civil war. In the disturbed state of the 

o 

country, the soldiers, who patrolled the town and 
guarded the cuarteles, were very particular as to 
passengers in the streets by night. The Englisli 
Minister gave me the countersign, which was to say 
first, '^ Fatria,'' and second, "Federal ;" but the 
somewhat novel experience of being challenged, on 
passing one of these places, must have disarranged my 
ideas, for in reply to their challenge I ^responded 
merely, " All right," which was of no avail. Indul- 
gence was craved for a few moments, and the given 
words having been rummaged out from the lumber- 
room of memory, they w^ere used in their proper 
»order and sequence, and my way was then pursued 
rejoicingly. An acquaintance of mine had a still 
narrower escape, for being out at night without the 
countersign, he was fired at by the guard, but was 
fortunate enough to escape any serious physical 
damage. In another instance, a Venezuelan soldier 
had received his orders to challenge by asking, 
"Who goes there?" three times, and if no response 
was given, then to fire. AVhilst on duty at the 
cuartel he heard a footstep, and instead of carrj'ing 
out the spirit of his orders, he obeyed them literally ; 
simply cried, " Alto / quien vive, tres veces V (Stop ! 
who goes there, three times ?), and then bang went 
his musket, to the detriment of the pedestrian. 

The capital stands upon what is said to have been 
the bed of a lake, dried up and elevated by the 
action of an earthquake. There is nothing Indian 
about Cardcas except its name ; no trace is left, in 



Chap, ii.] CARACAS. 29 

the present city, of tlie hardy race who inhabited 
this beautiful valley before the advent of Don Diego de 
Losada. A grammar of the language of the abori- 
gines was printed in 1683, but the book is now 
extremely rare.'" From a limited knowledge of Tam- 
anak words, I judge that the Cumanagota has a 
close affinity to it. If Father Ruiz Blanco's dictionary 
may be trusted, the warlike Cumanagotas had neither 
God nor devil. 

The climate of Card,cas is a perpetual spring, and 
although, like all tropical regions, sometimes liable to 
sudden and unexpected changes of temperature, it is 
remarkably healthy. The atmosphere is clear, and 
the air pure and delicious. Situated as it is 3000 feet 
above the level of the sea, at the entrance to a fertile 
valley, and surrounded by lofty mountains, the scenery 
afifords varied landscapes, alike pleasing to the eye, 
and suggestive to the imagination. The average 
temperature is about 70° — a gentle summer heat. No 
capital near the equator is so well placed as Caracas 
for climate and proximity to the coast, t 

The city, very regular in its structure, is composed 
of about two score of streets, half of them running 
from N. to S. and half from E. to W., thus form- 
ing over 150 distinct blocks. The houses are gene- 
rally in the Spanish-American style, single story 
with courtyard or patio. Four rivers traverse the 

* By the kindness of the late Senor Kamon Bolet I possess a copy. 
The title-page will be found in Appendix Q., No. 245. 

t Dr. Ernst, by a series of comparisons of barometric readings, 
calculated by various formulas, has determined the height of Cardcas 
to be 3019 feet above the level of the sea. 



30 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ii. 

valley and add to the fertility of the soil. Anauco, 
Catuche, Caroata, and Guaire, into which the others 
run, have been compared to the four streams which 
watered Paradise. Oviedo y Banos carries the 
simile further, and likens the city to an earthly Eden. 
The history of Caracas is intimately connected with 
that of the republic in general. =* 

There are twenty churches, all devoted to the 
Roman Catholic confession. The only one of any 
great beauty is that of Nuestra Seiiora de las 
Mercedes, erected as late as 1857. It is in the Doric 
style, and is said by native critics to be one of the few 
edifices in Caracas in which architectural rule and 
proportion have been regarded. The city has ten 
bridges, three theatres, twenty-two public fountains, 
and eight cemeteries, six of which are for Roman 
Catholics and two for Protestants. It has also a 
Casa de Misericordia, a military hospital, and various 
other benevolent institutions. The trade of the 
capital is of a very miscellaneous character, and gives 
employment to probably five hundred mercantile and 
manufacturing; establishments. 

The population in 1856 was set down at 43,752, 
and in 1865 was estimated to have reached 60,000; 
but an actual count in 1867 only discovered 47,013. 
Of males over eighteen there were 1 1,309, under that 
age 8564, a total of 19,873. Of the fairer sex there 
w^ere 16,500 who had passed the age of fifteen, and 

* The sketch of the colonial history, given in Appendix A., contains a 
notice of many of the stirring events connected with the early history 
of the city. 



Chap, ii.] VITAL STATISTICS. 31 



6946 under it, a total of 23,446. To these add 3694 
" foreigners," sex not stated, and the number of souls 
living in Caracas at that date was 47,013. Young 
men of engaging manners would have a good chance 
of success here, as there were 13,424 unmarried adult 
females, whose possible sweethearts numbered only 
7999. Excluding the army and those in the hos- 
pitals, the remainder of the population was com- 
posed of 20,495 ^'lio could read and write, and 
25,403 who were unable to do so. 

The vital statistics of the town, from the ist of 
July 1870 to 30th June 1871, have been published, 
and are not without interest. The total number of 
births was 162 1, of which 827 were males and 794 
females, being in the proportion of 100 to 104. Of 
these, 746 came into the world with the blessings of 
the Church, whilst 875 were born out of wedlock. 
With few exceptions these couples were living together 
as man and wife, and were so in the sight of Heaven ; 
the only reason for their noncompliance with the 
regulations of the Church being the excessive charges 
of the priests, who made the marriage service a luxury 
beyond the reach of the poor ! ''' Of the illegitimates, 
430 were boys and 445 girls ; the excess of female 
births in this class has been generally noticed. Dur- 
ing the same period 591 males and 685 females died. 
The higher death-rate of the females is remarkable. 



* Since my departure the law for civil marriages has been passed, 
and will soon alter this anomaly, and reduce the figures of illegitimacy 
to, at least, the truly liberal standard of that of some portions of the 
British Isles. 



32 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ii. 

being in the proportion of i ' 1 6 to each male. Out of 
lOO deaths tliere were 46 males and 54 females, which, 
curiously enough, is the same proportion as that of 
illegitimate and legitimate births. During the 
twelve months the inhabitants had increased by 345. 
The births were 3'38, and the deaths 2*66 per cent., 
which is at the rate of 9 births and 7 deaths for 
every two days. The marriages during the year 
were 2 1 3, that is, one for every 200 inhabitants. In 
the first six months of the year the deaths were 
581, in the second half 695, a curious variation. 
Phthisis was the cause of i8| per cent, of these 
deaths. 

Caracas in 1870-71 had forty educational estab- 
lishments, wherein 11 38 males and 785 females were 
receiving instruction, to which must be added 162 
students at the university, and 50 at the clerical 
trainino; school known as the Seminario Tridentino, 
making a total of 2 135. Of this number, 1 1 71 were 
educated at private schools.'"' The University of 
Caracas is endowed with the rents of the Hacienda of 
Chuao, supposed to be the finest cacao-plantation in 
the world. Formerly the net revenue from this source 
was only §8000, but in 1871 the Government resolved 
to terminate their contract with its tenant, and to 
manage it themselves. This change has resulted in a 
large increase of profit, and $20,000 is now received 
annually by the university. 

The Cathedral of Caracas is not worthy of the im- 

* These figures are taken from an article by Dr. A. Rojas in the 
Almanaque, 'para Todos, 1872. 



Chap, ii.] A HEAVENLY VISITANT. 33 

portance of the ecclesiastical system of which it is the 
chief temple. It is said that after the earthquake of 
1 64 1, the original plan was varied, in order to give 
additional power of resistance to subterranean move- 
ments. As it withstood the terrible disaster of 181 2, 
which laid nine-tenths of the town in ruins, it may 
fairly have established its claim to be earthquake- 
proof. The style is a kind of Tuscan, having no 
architectural pretensions, and the building displays 
more of caprice than of regularity, for it is not at all 
well-proportioned, the general effect being heavy. At 
the top of the clock-tower stands a statue of Faith — a 
comely lady, who from her dizzy height looks calmly 
down upon the struggling world below, undisturbed 
even by the dozen bells, or the jarring works of the 
public clock immediately under her feet. The church 
has five naves, the roof resting on brick columns, 
with arches of the same material. Formerly it con- 
tained an altar to St. George, who is not only the 
patron saint of England, but also of the chapter of 
Caracas. His votaries were under obligation to 
keep up his festival ; not that he had slain a dragon 
for them, but because he had destroyed a plague of 
maggots which had played havoc with the crops. 
The church is now comparatively poor, though at one 
time its annual revenue amounted to $86,762. There 
are five chapels in it, each under separate patronage ; 
that of the Santisima Trinidad contains the ashes of 
the great liberator, Simon Bolivar, covered by a 
magnificent monumental marble statue. 

Almost at one end of the town stands the Iglesia 

VOL. I. c 



34 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ii. 



de la Santisima Trinidad, begun in 1744, when a 
pious sou of Curdcas, Juan Domingo del Sacramento 
Infante, having determined to build a church, sold 
his property, and found that he was still without a 
fund sufficient to carry out his intentions. Whilst in 
this predicament, and hoping for the aid of the faith- 
ful, there happened one of those minor miracles, the 
wonder equally of devotee and sceptic. On the after- 
noon of the third day of May, whilst the clock was 
striking three, he received a gift of three reales on 
the spot w^here the church now stands. " Cuya 
limosna,^' says Infante, "me did una persona jjcira 
la fabrica de diclia Santa Iglesia, y al volver la 
cava se me desapa7^eci6.'" Who was this mysterious 
personage, who did not even wait to have a receipt 
for his subscription of one shilling and threepence to 
the church building fund ? Hoiu did he disappear ? 
The narrative is most tantalising. Our pious friend 
does not say whether the apparition merely turned 
the corner of a street, sailed up into the blue sky, or 
sank deep down into mother earth. Supposing it to 
have been a spirit, and therefore without body or 
material organisation, the task of carrying even so 
small a burden as three silver coins must have been 
embarrassing. 

"The sceptic," as a Venezuelan friend has observed, 
" will pass by such a narrative as this, with the same 
indifference with which a savage will place his foot 
upon the shining facets of a precious stone ; for the 
Christian alone it has significance, symbolising in its 
triplicity the sacred mystery of the Trinity." Accept- 



Chap, ii.] THE MIRACULOUS IMAGE. 35 

ing this theory m its fuhiess, we can only wish that 
the heavenly visitant had given Infante more sub- 
stantial aid, for three reales do not go a long way in 
building a church, and this the poor enthusiast learned 
to his cost, for he died in 1777, full of sadness and 
disappointment, with his project only partly accom- 
plished. Although others took up the good work, it 
was not thoroughly finished until 1865, when, after 
having been for some time in a half-ruinous condition, 
it was finally completed. The funds were chiefly 
collected by a persevering old priest, who, whenever 
there was a procession through the streets, stood by 
with his box, and gradually gathered funds sufficient 
to finish the great work. The church is very pictur- 
esque, its Gothic front, with two flank towers, having 
a good effect, though we may conjecture that poor 
Infante w^ould have preferred to have had three 
towers. The style is a variety of the Perpendicular, 
in which all the resources of the architect have been 
expended upon the facade — the sides are almost as 
plain as the walls of a barn. 

Whilst speaking of churches in Caracas, I may as 
well add a curious legend associated with the imao^e 
of Nuestra Seiiora de la Soledad, now in the temple 
of San Francisco. Don Juan del Corro ordered a 
copy of the imtage of Nuestra Seiiora de la Soledad 
from Spain. It was made, and shipped off"; but on 
the way to Venezuela the vessel encountered a violent 
storm, and this precious work of art and other portions 
of the cargo were cast overboard ; but the barque even- 
tually got safe to port. This disaster was a loss to the 



36 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ii. 



captain, who had filled up the empty space in the box 
containing the image with gold and silver lace. Whilst 
the servants of Don Juan were one day working upon 
the shore, they found a box evidently cast up by the 
sea. They carried this case to the hacienda of their 
master on Naiguatd, who, on opening it, found in 
perfect preservation her 

"Whom the blind waves and surges had devoured." 

This was two days before the ship came to La 
Guayra. The captain lamented his misfortune to Don 
Juan, who invited him to his house, where he showed 
him the statue of Nuestra Senora. The mariner's 
astonishment was great, and he exclaimed, " If I 
did not know that the image had perished in mid- 
ocean, I should swear that this was it." By means 
of the lace its identity was completely established, 
and the fame of the miraculous figure spread far and 
wide. 

Many of the places about Caracas have either old 
legends or pieces of folklore connected with them. 
There is a square colloquially called El Cerrito del 
Diablo, a name accounted for by a popular tradition, 
which may be shortly stated thus : — " Once upon a 
time" there was a poor miserable hut at this place, 
where dwelt a good-natured old woman, upon whom 
Providence had inflicted a very wicked and disobedient 
daughter. This extremely undutiful girl was one day 
desirous of purchasing some article of foolish finery. 
Her mother very naturally objected, as it was out of all 
consonance with her means. Enraged at the opposi- 



Chap, ii.] COCKFIGHTING IN CARAcAS. 37 

tion, the daughter seized a stick and commenced to 
belabour her parent, who, inflamed witli anger at this 
unnatural treatment exclaimed, "May God curse 
thee as I curse thee, and the evil one take thy soul." 
The curse had scarcely escaped from her lips when 
the girl fell down in horrible convulsions, and, not- 
withstanding the assistance of doctor and priest, ex- 
pired in the most dreadful agony. Some of the 
neighbours, wishing to give their good offices in pre- 
paring the body for the grave, went to the house soon 
after, but found it enveloped in a cloud of smoke 
(highly sulphureous), and when this had disappeared, 
the corpse was nowhere to be found. The devil, to 
make sure of his gift, had taken both the soul and its 
earthly tabernacle.'"' 

Soon after my arrival in Caracas, having heard 
much of cockfighting, which is still popular in 
Venezuela, although discreditable in England, I 
determined to judge for myself of its merits as a 
pastime. Since this sport went out of fashion with 
us, it has been customary to speak of it with un- 
mitigated severity, but it has at least the negative 
advantage of not being more brutal than many 
" British sports " still under very high patronage. It 
is demoralising for the spectators to watch the 
struggles and apparent sufierings of the birds, and 
after a while the sight becomes monotonous. For the 
gamecocks themselves, pity does not seem to be 
greatly needed. They enter the arena full of mettle 

* This story is given in an article by Dr. T. Eodriguez : " La Opinion 
Nacional," No. 902. 



38 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ii. 

and defiant energy, their combative feelings excited 
to the utmost, each animated with the spirit of fear- 
leas daring and pluck, which in humanity leads to 
valorous exploits ; for ten or fifteen minutes they have 
all tlic pleasures of battle — 

"And tlie stern joy which warriors feel 
In foenien wortliy of their steel ; " 

and at the conclusion of the engagement, if one has 
all the agonies of death, the other revels in the ex- 
quisite sensation of victory. Almost every town and 
village in the Republic has its arena, but that of 
Caracas is the largest of all — the very Coliseum of 
Venezuelan cockpits. 

Another favourite resort of Los Cardquenos was El 
Casino, a public pleasure-garden, round whose trellised 
arbours creepers twined their tendrils, whilst overhead 
palms and umbrageous trees gave grateful shade, and 
flowers — dahlia, jasmine, and rose — lent their beauty 
to the scene. Pleasant it was in the cool evening to 
watch them bathed in the moonlight and to listen to 
the sound of music, for here open-air concerts were 
not uncommon. Still more interesting to the student 
of human nature were the Seiioritas and their 
Cahalleros, who chose this little Arcadia as the place 
for conversation upon politics and other interesting 
subjects. One of the chief attractions was its ices ; 
flavoured with rifion, chirimoya, vanilla, and other 
native-grown fruits. 

One day whilst riding on horseback in the vicinity 
of Cardcas, I came across an old acquaintance who was 



Chap, ii.] THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS. 39 

makiuof a round cruise through the AVest Indies in the 
" Australian," s.s. He had heard at La Guayra, of a 
Mr. Spence at Card,cas, and had come up on the chance 
of my being the real " Simon Pure." I was naturally 
much astonished to meet in these far-away clear 
tropical altitudes, one whom I had last seen years before 
in the largest of the low grimy valleys of Lancashire, 
Although he appeared to be in perfect health and full 
of vigour, he never saw England again, but died on the 
passage home, a victim to that scourge of the Antilles, 
the yellow fever. 

I was anxious to gain all the information possible 
of the agriculture and industry of the country, and 
therefore gladly accepted an invitation to inspect the 
coffee-plantation and farm of Blandin, the property of 
the Brothers Rodriguez. There I was initiated into 
all the mysteries of the preparation of the coffee-berry 
through its various stages till ready for household 
consumption. My hosts showed their English tastes 
by keeping plenty of dogs for indulgence in an occa- 
sional day's hunting, and also by their willingness to 
receive any strangers and to show them the interesting 
processes of coffee -growing. The Brothers Rodriguez 
have suffered but little from civil war, having had tbe 
good sense to keep to their agricultural pursuits by re- 
siding on their estate, instead of following the example 
of the majority of the landed proprietors, who live in 
Caracas, and seldom or ever even visit their haciendns. 
Blandin is one of the " show places " of the capital ; 
situated not very far from town, it is a pleasant drive 
for an excursion, and its tasteful and picturesque 



40 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap 



appearance, and the well-known hospitality of its 
owners, attract many visitors. The extensive flower 
gardens, artificial ponds, orange groves, and similar 
accessories, by no means detract from the charms of 
the locality. This w^as my first experience of coffee 
culture, though many opportunities of studying it 
afterwards occurred. 

At the end of March, in company with Mr. Middle- 
ton, I visited the Government House to be presented 
to His Excellency Senor Antonio Leocadio Guzman, 
the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and father of the 
President. He is still, although advanced in years, a 
sound hale man, in the full vigour of his intellect. 
He had the honour to serve as private secretary to 
Bolivar, and no man now living has played so active 
and important a role in the varied drama of South 
American independence. He may be regarded as the 
father and founder of the now dominant party in 
Venezuela. 

In the course of a long conversation on the past 
history and politics of the Republic, this liberal 
veteran narrated an anecdote of a man who had 
worked hard to rouse public sentiment in favour of 
liberal opinions, and who, in consequence, was elected 
President of the Republic by an overwhelming majo- 
rity ; but he never exercised the functions of the 
office, as the party in power arrested him, condemned 
him to death, and he barely managed to escape with 
his life from the prison into which he had been cast. 

" I believe, your Excellency," said Mr. Middleton, 
*' that you have told us an episode in your own life." 



Chap, ii.] AZAMBUJA. 41 

The Minister acknowledo^ed the correctness of the 
inference, and the incident is a good illustration of 
the romantic element in Venezuelan politics. Our 
conversation ^Yas carried on in English, as Senor 
Guzman spoke the language very fluently. 

I varied my residence at the capital by going down 
to La Guayra in company with the Brazilian Minis- 
ter, Dom Joaquin Maria Nascentes de Azambuja, 
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, 
who was there to settle the boundary question between 
Brazil and Venezuela. (It could not be to look after 
the interests of his compatriots, as there was only 
one of them known to be in the country.) He came 
by the packet from St. Thomas, wherein, but for my 
escape by the " Arno," I should have been a pas- 
senger. She w^as loaded with petroleum oil, and the 
glowing colours and energetic English employed 
by the Brazilian Minister and his Secretary, Senor 
Henrique Lisboa, to picture the horrors of that passage 
made me rejoice, even in the remembrance of the 
dreariness of Brids^etown. The Minister was a man 
of extensive information and varied experience, 
possessing also in a high degree the social qualities 
that make a good companion. On our way we had 
an interesting conversation respecting a plan he had 
for connecting the rivers Amazon and Orinoco by 
converting the Brazo del Casiquiare into a canal ; the 
object being presumably to draw the trade of the 
upper waters of the Orinoco into the upper waters 
of the Amazon, thus increasing to a certain extent the 
prosperity of Brazil at the expense of Venezuela. Senor 



43 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ii. 

Azambuja went to La Guayra to. meet his ^' Sohrina'''' 
(niece) coming from St. Tliomas, and I with lihe inten- 
tion of getting a sudorifero or natural vapour bath. 

When the cholera was raging in Caracas and ex- 
terminating its inhabitants, La Guayra escaped un- 
scathed. Rare indeed were the cases of vomito negro. 
Maiquetia on tlie west and Guanape on the east of 
this port are well-known watering places. Here those 
who are in bad health, and those who think " pre- 
vention better than cure," resort for the benefit of 
fine sea-bathing facilities, and fresh strong air. 
Guanape is the more favoured spot of the two, as the 
bracing sea-breeze comes most freely there. 

The exports from La Guayra indicate a considerable 
amount of commercial activity. Thus in the twelve 
months ending 30th June 1871 she exported 124,832 
quintales of coflfee, 35,413 of cacdo, 30,843 of 
cotton, 858J of indigo, 6381 of sugar, and 42,189 
hides. The total value would approach $4,000,000. 

Rumour says that a church in La Guayra was built 
from the proceeds of a fine, imposed by a priest upon 
all who profaned their conversation with the word 
" Caramba,'' or its stronger equivalent, which shall 
be nameless. The church is called " La Iglesia de la 
Santisima Caramha,'" but I was not able in my 
peregrinations to localise the edifice ! The most 
solemn afiirmation a Venezuelan can make as his most 
earnest pledge of faith is " Palabra de Ingles,''' * but 
" Caramba ! " is the favourite expletive of the populace. 

For example, three jolly monks, sleek faced and 

* " On the word of an EnslishmaD," 



Chap, ii.] ''CARAMBAT' 43 

fat, were returning one day from a city where 
they had been to purchase a donkey-load of crea- 
ture comforts. Ere they had proceeded on their 
journey far, their brute turned stupid and would not 
go. All the sermons of Saint Jerome were poured 
into his long ears, but without effect — striking elo- 
quence moved him not. A passer-by, who knew how 
many curses were daily heaped upon him by his 
regular driver, told the priests he would not stir un- 
less he heard the great oath of the commonality, 
** Caramba ! " The monks were unwilling to profane 
their lips with the unholy word, but, with the casuistry 
of their class, hit upon an expedient. " Ca ! " said the 
first, " Ram 1 " cried the second, " Ba ! " shouted the 
third ; and so, as each uttered his harmless syllable 
in a concerted trio, the wicked word fell upon the 
donkey's ears and he fled ! 

Although good sons of the Church of Rome, the 
Venezuelans are fond of witticisms directed against 
their spiritual guides. After all, the 'peccadillo of 
fathering stray anecdotes upon "shepherds" is not 
peculiarly Venezuelan ; other countries, not excepting 
" immaculate Britain," indulge in this venial weak- 
ness. There is a divinity which hedges in the priest 
no less than the king, and makes him seem, to profane 
eyes, one of those beings who are not of the earth but 
yet upon it, and this want of sympathy renders him 
not unnaturally the object of jests, good-natured and 
otherwise. According to one of these Card-canian 
chistes, when a young lady went to confession the 
priest inquired her name. " I shall not tell you," 
she replied ; " my name is not a sin." 



44 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ii. 

My own difficulties in learning Spanish made me 
sympathise with my friends who were struggling with 
our English tongue, for it was a good deal studied, 
and sentences and phrases supposed to be a part of 
the language of " perfidious Albion " often assailed 
me. My progress in Spanish w\as retarded by being 
looked upon as a proper object for experiment. 

Some of the phrases Avere curious : " How are 
you getting on with your English ? " I asked Mr. C. 

" Very wrongly," he replied ; " I have no weather 
for it ! " 

On another occasion, whilst admiring the pretty 
rosary of a prettier young lady, she told me that she 
prized it very much. 

" Why ? " 1 inquired. 

" Because," said she, feelingly, " the Pope has 
'holyed'it." 

Until better acquainted with the idioms of the 
language some curious blunders in speaking were 
inevitably made. A number of anecdotes w^ere cur- 
rent to illustrate this fact ; some of these tales were 
true and others w^ere only hen trovato. Without 
saying to w^hich class the following belongs, I will 
give it as an instance of the pitfalls besetting the 
feet of a foreigi^^er w^andering amidst the myriad 
words of a strange tongue : — One of the " hard up " 
warriors who had been engaged in the Tuy came to 
the rooms of Seiior Spence and said, " Estoy demas- 
iado limpio." Senor Spence knowing that the first 
part of the sentence signified " I am too," looked into 
his dictionary and found that the remaining word 



Chap, ii.] SOUTH AMERICAN ENGLISH. 45 

meant "dean ! " The warrior wished to express that 
he had reached a crisis in liis financial embarrassments 
by having parted with his (what the Yankees call) 
"bottom dollar!" 

A good plan is to frame your thoughts in l)ad 
English, and then translate them literally. This 
answers very well on many occasions, but may be the 
cause of awkw^ardness, as an Englishman found out, 
who, wishing to compliment a Minister at a banquet, 
said in Spanish that he was a " regular brick," and 
''ladrillo regular'' \M'd% on everybody's lips for days 
after, and became a " household word." So the 
phrase, " Vamos a tomar las once," (Let us go and take 
the eleven) is a puzzling expression, until it is learned 
that aguardiente (brandy) contains eleven letters.'" 

As an example of South American English in an 
early stage of development, take this letter from a 
curiosity dealer ; it was certainly not the least curious 
thing which emerged from his establishment : — " They 
offers to the illustrated judgement of Mr. J. Spence 
that beautiful pitcher, taken in a Indian sacred grave 
in 'Capamarca' (Eepublic of Peru) in the year 15 13, 
as a preciousness of the ancient art in the hemisphere 
of Columbus. — Beauty anciennity, the allegory of the 
Gods in this handsome and unhappy earth. — All is 
found in this monument of the ancient and primitive 
Indian taste : — Mr. Spence will judge on it." 

* A rogue in Venezuela is called vivo ; an honest good-hearted fellow 
not overburdened with brains is a pendejo ; and a man who can only 
fight, and is good for nothing else, is termed muy guapo ; the latter 
individual is the curse of the Republic ! 



CHAPTER III. 



PART I. 

GEOGRAPHY : NATURAL, PHYSICAL, AND POLITICAL 
HISTORY. 

" Seas of lakes 
And hills of forests ! crj'stal waves that rise 
'Midst mountains all of snow, and mock the sun, 
Returning him his flaming beams more thick 
And radiant than he sent them. — Torrents there 
Are bounding floods ! and there the tempest roams 
At large, in all the terrors of its glory ! " 

Sheridan Knowles. 

Before continuing the narrative of my personal 
experiences, it may be well to give a general sketch 
of the geography, and of the natural, physical, and 
political history of the vast region in which I had 
arrived, and also to warn the reader that he is enter- 
ing upon a chapter of dry details. To those interested 
in the country, however, no apology is necessary, as it 
may perhaps prove to them the most important part 
of this work. 

To Agustin Codazzi, almost solely, are we indebted 
for all the information we are in possession of as to 
the geography of Venezuela. 

Of the republics of South America, Venezuela is 
situated farthest north, lying chiefly between i° — 13° 
N. lat., and 61° — 75° W. long. It has British 



Chap, iii.] THE COAST-LINE. 47 

Guiana and the Atlantic Ocean on the east, New- 
Granada on the west, Brazil on the south, and the 
Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean on the north. Its 
extent is 426, 7 1 2 English square miles. Figures fail to 
convey any idea of geographical dimensions, therefore 
when w^e say that Venezuela covers the same extent 
of superficial area as France, Belgium, Holland, Den- 
mark, Switzerland, and Portugal, including the United 
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the reader will 
have formed some just conception of its magnitude. 

It has an immense coast-line, extending over a 
thousand miles, in which are indented thirty-two 
ports and some fifty creeks and bays, and the gulfs 
of Maracaybo, Paria, Coro, Cariaco, and Santa Fe. 
The sea-current runs westward at the rate of from 
five to eight miles daily. There are seven capes, 
seven peninsulas, and seven straits, the peninsula of 
Paria, on the strait Boca de Drdgos, being the point 
where Colombus first landed upon '' tierra-jirma.'''' 
Seventy-one islas grandes and a great number of small 
islets also belong to Venezuela. The most important 
is that of the island of Nueva Esparta, more familiar 
to European readers under the name of Margarita. 

Three systems of mountains cross the country. The 
range of the Andes forms a compact mass, rising in 
the Sierra Nevada to a height of 15,027 feet, and 
sweeping down to the lake of Maracaybo on the north, 
and to the plains of Barinas on the south. Naiguatd,, 
commonly supposed to be 9187 feet, is the highest 
peak of the Coast range, which encloses the rich 
valleys of Aragua and Caracas, and the lake of 



48 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. iii. 



Valencia, and appears to be connected by a sub- 
merged chain with the islands opposite the coast. The 
Parima range runs from east to west, and rises in 
peaks often interrupted by levels, attaining its highest 
altitude, 8228 feet, in Maraguaca. 

Venezuela is bountifully watered. Beside the lake, 
which might with propriety be termed the sea, of 
Maracaybo, and the immense lake of Valencia, there 
are two hundred and four smaller lagunas, and sixty 
rivers, all of considerable size, and eight of them of the 
first magnitude. The Orinoco, the second grand 
stream in South America, has its chief source to the 
south-west of Sierra Parima (3° o' 45" N. lat., and 66° 
o' 30" W. long.), and throws itself into the Atlantic at 
8° 45' N. and 62° 30' W. Rising in the great State 
of Guayana (whose capital, Ciudad-Bolivar, is the 
commercial centre of the surroundinof district, of 
a portion of the neighbouring republic of New 
Granada, and of a section of the Brazilian Empire), 
it runs a devious course from E. to W., from S. to N., 
and from W. to E., through nearly the whole of the 
central part of Venezuela. Near the village of 
Esmeralda — 3° N. and 68° 30' W. — the Orinoco 
divides into two streams ; one of these, known under 
the name of the Brazo del Casiquiare, runs in a south- 
west direction for a hundred and fifty miles, and joins 
the Rio-Negro, which, after a further course of five 
hundred miles, falls into the Amazon in Brazil. It 
is possible to follow this single body of water four 
thousand miles. In the preceding chapter a project 
is mentioned for the canalisation of the Casiquiare. 



Chap, iii.] ZONES. 49 

The climate of Venezuela varies in different parts, 
from the cold of winter to the fiercest summer heat. 
The towns of Maracaybo, Puerto-Cabello, Ciudad- 
Bolivar, and La Guayra are said to be the hottest 
places that the Creator has fashioned, whilst the 
peaks of Merida are reported to be the coldest. The 
average temperature on the coast, from the Penin- 
sula of Goajira to the Gulf of Paria, is 78°; in places 
near lagunas it rises however to 84°. The country 
has been divided into three zones of temperature, which 
distinguish the tierras frias, templadas, y calidas — 
cold, temperate, and warm districts. From the level of 
the sea to a height of 2000 feet the climate is tropical, 
from that to 7000 feet it is temperate, whilst above 
that height it is cold, and on the peaks of the grand 
Cordillera of the Andes, snow and ice eternally reign 
triumphant. There are only two seasons — summer 
and winter. In the first come the rains, and in the 
second the drought ; it is not, however, to be sup^Dosed 
that the earth is parched and flooded alternately for 
the six months of each division. 

Venezuela has been divided by Codazzi into three 
zones — agricultural, pastoral, and forest land. As 
the pursuits of the people are in accordance with this 
natural indication, the country offers to the observant 
traveller three of the stages through which nations 
arrive at civilization. 

The first zone includes the Andes and coast rauge 
of mountains, and extends from the State of Tachira 
to the Gulf of Paria ; on one side it is washed by the 
Caribbean Sea, whilst its southern parts slope gently 

VOL. I. D 



50 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. iii. 

to the savannas. This zone contains all the com- 
mercial ports, and the greater part of all the land cul- 
tivated in the Republic. It includes cold and desert 
pdramos, highlands destitute of vegetation, elevated 
valleys yielding fabulous crops of wheat and potatoes ; 
lower ones covered with sugar-cane, indigo, coffee, 
cotton, and cacd,o. It embraces also within its area 
virgin forests, and immense tracts of waste lands 
watered by hundreds of streams and llanuras; some 
sterile, others clothed with rich pastures. 

The second, the pastoral zone, extends from the foot 
of the Cordillera of Merida to the Delta of the Orinoco, 
and from the base of the mountains of the State of 
Bolivar to the rio Meta. Here are seen the savannas 
— immense plains, some perfectly clear, some covered 
with brushwood, some with oases ; and others, again, 
without a sinHe tree. From these levels rise tables 
of sand and marl, surrounded by streams which inun- 
date, in the rainy season, aU the lowlands. When the 
waters subside they become rich pasture-lands. Cattle- 
breeding is carried on in these " level tracts." Pasture 
farms, hatos, conucos, and villages, are sparsely dotted 
over this immense district — and here and there a town 
springs into life. 

The third zone, that of forest land, extends from 
the savannas to the frontiers of Brazil and of Colom- 
bia, and to the Esequibo. Here are rivers with dark 
waves, and without insects ; rivers of clear water, 
swarming with animal life ; rivers that are rushing 
torrents, bordered by gloomy forests, alive with wild 
beasts. These darksome shades have scarcely ever 



Chap, iii.] VEGETABLE WEALTH. 51 

been trodden by a white man's foot, and the songs 
of their countless birds have fallen only on the 
Indian's ear. 

The vegetable wealth of Venezuela is very great. 
Among the cereals are rice, Indian-corn, and wheat ; 
of farinaceous roots, there are yuca and arrow-root ; 
of farinaceous fruits, banana and bread-fruit ; of dye 
stuffs there are indigo, Brazil-wood, fustic, dragon's- 
blood, arnotto, and azafran {Carthamus tinctoria) ; 
of oil-producing plants, there are copaiba, aguacate 
(Laurus persea), cocoa-nut, pinon {Jatropha curcas), 
girasole {Helianthus annaus) , ajonjoli [Sesamunn orien- 
tale), and sassafras ; for cordage, the aloe, wild cane, 
maguey, and chiquickique ; of gums, there are carana, 
copey, cow-tree {Galactodenchmm utile), cauclio, and 
matai^cdo ; for tanning purposes, dividive and mangle 
hlanco ; of medicines, there are Peruvian bark, sarsa- 
parilla, spurge, and Inga pungens ; of timber trees, 
there are mahogany, lignum vitce, cedar, granadillo, 
and ebony. Coffee, cacao, indigo, cotton, sugar, and 
tobacco are grown for exportation, but to an extent 
ridiculously small, when compared with the quantities 
the country is capable of producing. Amongst the 
edible roots are names, apio, capachos, yuca, 
lairenes, mapuey, sweet potatoes, suM, and common 
potatoes. Rice, maize, millet, and wheat are in some 
places extensively produced. Amongst the fruits 
grown to perfection may be named the aguacate, 
chirimoya, guamo, lechoso, mango, parcha, pine- 
apple, and nisperos. 

The mineral riches are varied and abundant. Cop- 



52 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. iii. 

per, silver, lead, iron, coal, sulphur, mercury, grauite, 
marble, and many other valuable ores and minerals 
exist in her soil : whilst the rich and productive gold 
mines of Guayana show that the dream of the early 
Spanish conquerors of El Dorado, the land of gold, 
was not an altogether baseless fabric. Mineral phos- 
phates are found in abundance on many of the 
islands. There are also thermal springs, and the fact 
of the existence of petroleum, in several of the states, 
has lately been brought to light. 

Cattle-breeding forms an important source of wealth. 
Immense herds of black cattle roam the llanos or 
plains of the Apure. The number for the country 
at large (chiefly in that district) was estimated, 
before the long civil war, at 2,000,000 head. Nearly 
2,000,000 goats and sheep, and 500,000 horses, mules, 
and asses, figured in the returns of that period. 

As might be expected from the wide extent of 
territory, and the varieties of climate, the natural 
history of Venezuela embraces a wide diversity of 
fauna. Monkeys, panihors, pumas, and wild-cats 
offer sport to those who like a dash of danger thrown 
in as a seasoning to their pleasures. The dog, sloth, 
chigiiire, stag, and a thousand more mammals, quad- 
rupeds, and strange beasts of field, forest, mountain, 
and plain also exist. The birds, of which there are 
at least 500 species, range from the eagle to the 
humming-bird. Many of these are notable for their 
beauty of form, brilliancy of colour, and powers of 
song. In the waters swim the halibut, the par go, 
the shad, the lehranche, and the carite, together 



Chap, iii.] POPULATION. 53 

with those dangerous piscatory marauders, the caribe 
(which, being interpreted, is the man-eater), the ray- 
fish, the pez-sierra, and the shark. Other inhabitants 
of the waters are the turtle, terecai, caiman, and 
haha. Of mollusca, there are the almeja, calamar, 
barnacle, and the oyster. The varieties of serpents 
include the boa-constrictor, the mapanare, and the 
tigre, besides smaller kinds. The insects are many and 
varied in their character ; beautiful mariposas, tan- 
talising mosquitos, and loathsome pulgas, mingle with 
more useful creatures, such as the bee, the cochineal, 
the cantharis, &c. The niguas are living things of 
insinuating manners, which deposit their eggs between 
the skin and flesh of the extremities of the individuals 
whom they choose to favour. 

The population of Venezuela was roughly estimated 
at 1,500,000 to 1,750,000 in 1870, it is now probably 
2,000,000.'" The race is calculated to double itself in 
thirty-six years, but the advantages expected from 
this rapid increase have been checked by the deadly 
struo^Hes of internecine strife. Without countinof 
those slain in the war of the Federation, it is estimated 
that 260,000 have died by the sword, and 62,000 by 
earthquake and pestilence. Respecting the future 

* The census (of the population of Venezuela) taken in 1S73 gi^ve 

the following result : — 

Population. 

Twenty States, ) 

Federal District, ) i>725,i78 

Amazonian Territory, 23,048 

Marine do., 6,705 

Goajira do., 29,263 

1,784,194 



54 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. iiL 

augmentation of its population, we may recall Hum- 
boldt's words : — " If Venezuela enjoys good govern- 
ment, national and municipal, in a century and a half 
she will have six millions of people." 

To the anthropologist, Venezuela is a highly inter- 
esting field of observation. Its inhabitants are the 
descendants, in varying degrees of purity, of the 
Caucasian, the African, and the aboriginal Indian — 
representative races of three continents which have 
influenced the present population of South America. 
Intermarriage was not uncommon between the con- 
quistadores and the daughters of the brave and hardy 
Indian races who inhabited Venezuela before the 
advent of the white man, and although at a later 
period the natives were congregated in separate villages 
under special government, yet in many cases these arti- 
ficial restraints have disappeared, and the "mission" 
villagers have mixed with the lower classes of the 
population. At the commencement of the last cen- 
tury, over 20,000 African slaves are said to have 
been introduced into the country. The varieties 
of race beyond those of pure European extraction 
may be classed as mulatto, the ofispring of white and 
black ; mestizo, ofi'spring of white and Indian ; and 
zambo, the offspring of Indian and negro. There are, 
of course, minor varieties, arising from the marriage 
of some of the individuals belons^inoj to the above- 
named classes. The " upper orders " have kept them- 
selves remarkably free from this miscegenation.'" 

* In Venezuela, a person who has rather more of negro than of white 
blood is said to be cafe con poco leche — " coffee with a little milk." 



Cbap. iii.] THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC. 55 

The slaves were freed in 1854, under the Presi- 
dency of General Jos^ Gregorio Mond-gas. The law 
now makes no distinction between races ; they are 
equally endowed with the privileges of citizenship, 
and are equally eligible for all the offices of the State. 
There are still some tribes of the original owners of 
the soil, but they have fallen from their high estate, 
and are few and comparatively unimportant. They 
are rapidly disappearing from the continent — root 
and branch. 

The government of Venezuela is on the system 
of a federal republic. The separate states of the 
Union have joined together to form a nation, but 
they retain all sovereign powers not expressly dele- 
gated to the general executive. They are bound to 
defend the integrity and independence of the Union, 
to organise themselves on a democratic basis, and to 
submit to the ruling of the Congress, or other federal 
authority, in cases of dispute. The same code of civil 
and criminal law has currency throughout the Eepub- 
lic. The national legislature contains two chambers, 
the members of which are both elected by popular 
vote. A deputy is assigned to each 25,000 inhabi- 
tants, and an additional member to each 12,000 in 
excess of that number. 

The executive power is lodged in the hands of 
a president, who is also commander-iu-chief of the 
national forces. This chief magistrate is elected by 
the direct vote of the people, exercised by the ballot, 
a majority of votes in each state being requisite. 
Very considerable powers are intrusted to him. He 



56 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. iii. 

is assisted by two vice-presidents, annually elected 
by Congress to fulfil his duties when absent, and also 
by responsible ministers, whose concurrence and sig- 
nature is necessary to give legality to his decrees. 
The third part of the national executive is the Alta 
Corte Federal, a tribunal consisting of five persons 
nominated by the legislatures of the different states. 
Its duties are to try cival or criminal cases connected 
with the diplomatic officers, native or foreign, and 
generally to act as a court of appeal in all cases of 
dispute -as to the operation of the laws, contracts, 
negotiations, &c. 

The revenues of the State are chiefly derived from 
import and export duties. The annual revenue of 
the custom-houses is estimated at $4,550,000; other 
sources yield about 81,000,000. 

There is full liberty of religion in Venezuela, but 
the prevailing culte, and the only one joining in State 
ceremonials, is that of the Roman Catholic Church. 
An archbishop, with four bishops, have the spiritual 
oversight of this immense territory.'"' 

The military system of the country is composed of 
a national militia, to which each state is bound to 
furnish a contingent, though the long coast-line, with 
its many ports and fair sea, would be impossible to 
protect had not nature traced out three lines of 

* The late Archbishop, owing to disputes with the Government, was 
absent from his post. A vicar apostolic for some time exercised his 
functions, but later the Congress appointed his successor. This was an 
innovation worthy of Bismarck. On previous occasions the vacancies 
had been filled up by the Vatican, but in this case the name was merely 
submitted to His Holiness. 



Chap, iii] THE MILITARY SYSTEM. 57 

defence presenting insuperable difficulties in the way 
of an invader. The three zones of mountains, llanos, 
and forests, offer three stages of resistance, scarcely to 
be overcome. The first contains nearly all the prin- 
cipal towns and military fortresses, which, in all their 
extent, an enemy could not possibly occupy. The 
second produces horses and men, unrivalled for 
cavalry and guerilla bands. The third is the refuge 
afforded by dense woods, now inhabited only by 
friendly Indians. There is happily not the slightest 
chance of Venezuela ever being invaded, but should 
such a thought ever enter into the head of emperor, 
king, or president, the consideration of these natural 
features, and the invincible valour of her sons, exhi- 
bited not only in the glorious war of independence, 
but in a generation of unhappy civil strife, would 
show the madness of the dream, for 

" Who is the coward that would not dare 
To fight for sucli a land?" 

Education is not in a very forward state, but the 
legislation, like our own, has been taking steps for 
the advancement of popular instruction. There are 
two universities, one at Caracas and the other at 
Merida, eleven national colleges, a clerical seminary,* 
a military academy, and many private establishments. 
In some of the states there are public elementary 
schools. At Cardcas there is a national library freely 
open to the public. 

The commerce of Venezuela is estimated to have 

* This has been suppressed, and the candidates for the priesthood 
must now be educated at the national universities. Another step in 
the right direction ! 



68 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. iii. 

a yearly value of about $27,000,000. The imports 
are estimated at $12,000,000, aud the exports at 
$15,000,000. In 1830-31 the annual export was only 
$2,169,000. The increase, therefore, during the last 
forty-five years, taking into account a period of 
twenty -five to thirty years' civil war, is extraordinary, 
and proves conclusively the great natural wealth of 
the country. In past years contraband goods are 
supposed to have defrauded the Treasury of about 
$600,000 annually, but these nefarious proceedings 
are now very rare, owing to the laws being more 
stringently enforced against smuggling. 

The public debt is $80,000,000. About $45,000,000 
of that amount is owing to foreign creditors, a cir- 
cumstance by which the republic is best known in 
Europe. 

The United States of Venezuela consist of twenty 
independent states. 

El Estado de Bolivar, termed one of the " central 
states," has 130 miles of coast-line, its principal port 
being La Guayra. The islands of Tortuga, valuable 
for its saltpans, Orchila, famous for the "Orchila 
weed," and El Gran Roque, which is enriched by 
numerous beds of mineral phosphates, were also 
reckoned as part of this state, but have recently been 
formed into a separate jurisdiction under the name of 
the "Territory of Colon." ^'" The mainland is divided 
into districts of mountains and fertile valleys. In 
this state the coast chain of mountains, in the peak of 
Naiguatd (already mentioned), reaches its highest 

* A copy of fhe Government decree, constituting the islands of the 
Republic into a territory, will be found in Appendix M. 



Chap, iii.] EL ESTADO DE BOLIVAR. 59 

point, whilst the cordillera, running inland, has two 
lofty mountains in the Platilla, 6089 feet, and in the 
Cerro Azul, 5695 feet. The Tuy, which runs for 120 
miles, is the principal river, but there are 39 of lesser 
degree, and a multitude of rivulets. From Aragiiita 
to the sea, a distance of 75 miles, the Tuy is navi- 
gable. The climate is generally considered healthy, 
but owing to the very disparate physical conditions of 
different parts of the state, it is, of course, variable. 
On the low levels it is hot and unhealthy, in the 
mountains fresh and invigorating, and in the valleys 
of the Tuy warm but salubrious. Caracas, the 
capital of the Republic, was formerly the capital also 
of the state, but lately it has been formed, with a few 
of the surrounding towns and villages, into a federal 
district and separated from it.'"" Petare is now the 
state capital. Amongst the specially notable sights 
in the state of Bolivar are the valleys of the Tuy, 
Card-cas, Guarenas, and Guatire ; the pass of El 
Boqueron in the mountains of Caracas, the caves of 
El Encantado near Petare, Los Teques, rich in pre- 
historic interest, the Colonia Tovar, and the richly 
productive coffee district of the Mariches. [Some of 
these will hereafter be more fully described.] 

El Estado de Aragua (6 Guzman Blanco), has a 
population of 94,151 ; its capital, Victoria, contains 
6523 inhabitants. [In a subsequent chapter a more 
detailed account of this state will be given.] 

El Estado de Guarico, one of the " middle states," 

* The population of the federal district is 6o,cxx), and that of the 
State of Bolivar 129,143. 



60 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. iii. 

has a larger population (191,000) than any other 
state in the Union. Through it runs the river of the 
same name, emptying itself into the Orinoco near the 
mouth of the Apure, and having a course, with its 
windings, of over 250 miles, of which 100 are navi- 
gable. The Orituco has an extent of 1 20 miles, and 
the Manapire runs for 150 miles. There are also 
many others of lesser importance in this state. The 
physical aspect of Guarico is that of a series of vast 
level tracts, watered by navigable rivers, and covered 
by pajonales and verdant lands, where herds of black 
cattle and horses are pastured. In the winter season 
these plains, by the overflowing of the rain-charged 
rivers, are converted into a great expansive sea of 
water, navigable by canoes or piraguas. In this 
flood season many animals are drowned, but the 
majority of them find safety in the elevated table- 
lands, which rise like islands of refuge above the sur- 
face of the temporary deluge. There is abundance of 
animal life, some of it very disagreeable. The rivers and 
streamlets are peopled by creatures often as vivacious 
as they are vicious. The most curious is the electrical 
eel, which turns its fierce current against travellers 
or animals seeking to ford its waters. The method of 
fishing for it is peculiar. Strings of horses being 
driven through the streamlets the gimnotos at once 
attack their feet. Maddened by the electric shocks, 
the horses plunge, rear, and struggle desperately till 
the opposite bank is reached. But the onslaught 
exhausts the electricity of the eels, and they are then 
easily taken up and killed by the fishermen, or llaneros. 



Chap, iii.] CARABOBO. ' 6i 

El Estado de Carabobo,"' one of the " central states," 
containing a population of 1 1 7,605, is very rich in 
good lands, and its capability for coffee and sugar- 
production, on a large scale, is unsurpassed by any 
other state in the Union. It is from north to south 
150 miles, and from east to west 50 miles; having 
45 miles of coast-line, the harbour of Puerto-Cabello, 
and several of the islands off the coast. It is watered 
^y 75 rivers, 100 streamlets, and the large lake of 
Valencia. Except in the low woodlands of the coast, 
the climate is healthy. 

* The southern portion of the state of Caraboho has lately been formed 
into a separate state bearing the name of Cojedes. The last returns gave 
a population of 85,678 to it. Its capital, San Carlos, contains 10,420 
inhabitants. 



CHAPTER IV. 



PART II. 

GEOGRAPHY : NATURAL, PHYSICAL, AND POLITICAL 
HISTORY.* 

" Wherein of antres vast, and deserts idle, 
Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch heaven. 
It was my hint to speak." — Shakespeare. 

It is necessary to warn off from this chapter, no 
less than from the last, all those who are afraid of the 
dry details inseparable from a bird's-eye view of a 
country like Venezuela. This preliminary duty ac- 
complished, we proceed with our sketch of the re- 
maining states of the union. 

El Estado de Nueva Barcelona (one of the 
"eastern states"), is from north to south about 150 
miles, and from east to west 200 miles. It has 75 
miles of coast, with the islands lying off it — Las 
Picudas, Piritu, Las Chimanas, La Borracha, and 
Los Borrachitos. The se7^rania of Bergantin reaches 
its highest point in El Pioni, 6719 feet. In this 
state is the Mesa de Urica (an extension of that of 
Guanipe), forming with others a great system of 
tablelands, extending through Cumand and Guarico. 

* For some of the data contained in this chapter and the preceding 
one, I am indebted to the followin*^ works : — Primer Libro de Geografia 
de Venezuela^hj Aristides R6jas ; ResHmen de la Geografia de Venezuela, 
by Augustin Codazzi. 



Chap, iv.] NUEVA ANDALUSIA. 63 



These immense elevated plateaus conserve the rain 
water, and thus give rise to a hundred streams, irri- 
gating in the dry season a district that would other- 
wise be a desert. There are also the lakes of Mamo, 
Carapa, Guariaparo, and Anache. New Barcelona has 
several medicinal waters, both cold and warm ; and, 
in addition to agricultural wealth, is possessed of 
beds of coal. [Further particulars of this state will be 
found in the following chapter, which concerns my 
OAvn experiences therein.] 

El Estado de Cumand (one of the eastern states), 
known originally by the name of Nueva Andalusia, 
of which it formed the greater part, has a population 
of 55,000. It has an immense coast-line of over 300 
miles, including in this estimate the gulfs of Paria, 
Cariaco, and Santa Fe. There are good ports at 
Cumand, Carupano, Rio Caribe, and Gtiiria. The 
port of Carupano is considered second in the State 
in commercial importance. It has a good open 
roadstead, and is pleasantly situated at the foot of a 
great range of hills. There are in this state the 
mountain ranges of Bergantin, of the coast of Paria, 
and of the peninsula of Araya. The highest point 
is in the first-named, where Turimiquire attains an 
altitude of 6722 feet. More than 1 70 rivers and many 
smaller streams run from the mountains and the 
mesas. The lakes of Buenavista, Cariaco, Putucual, 
Guarapiche, Laguna-Grande, Macuare, and Guasa- 
conica are also in this state. The climate varies 
greatly — in many parts it is warm and healthy, 
whilst in others it is decidedly insalubrious. Cumand 



64 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. iv. 

has been divided into four zones : the firsts that of 
the mountains, bathed by a multitude of streams, and 
variegated by fertile valleys, in which the usual pro- 
ducts of Venezuelan agriculture are grown ; the second 
that of the tablelands, whose waters nearly all flow 
to the delta of the Orinoco ; the tliird, that of the fair 
savannas, devoted to stock-raising ; and the fourth, 
that of the swamps and woods, the habitat of savage 
beasts, and combative insects. 

The pine-apples and grapes of this state are noted 
for their large size and rich flavour. Cumana, the 
capital, was founded in 1520, and has now 9500 in- 
habitants. In 1530, and again in 1766, 1797, and 
1853, it was visited by violent earthquakes which 
ruined its edifices. 

There are many natural .curiosities in this state ; 
amongst them the famous cave of the guacheros. The 
" Grotto of the Guacheros " is entered by an immense 
arch, 70 feet high, and covered with gigantic trees. 
The cave may be said to consist of three great parts. 

The j^?'s^ is stated to be 2674 feet in extent, and 
inhabited by the nocturnal bird from which the cave 
derives its name. From the ceilinor hanor stalactites 

o o 

graceful in form, and sometimes 14 feet in length, 
and from three to four in width. So beautiful are 
these festoons and ornaments, that they seem, says 
Codazzi, to be rather works of art than caprices of 
Nature. When this famous geographer visited the 
caves, a single torch sufficed for light, until the party 
had advanced 1 50 yards, but at this point the dark- 
ness became so great that five lights were found neces- 



Chap, iv.] CAVE OF THE GUACHEROS. Go 

sary. Here, in this grim cavern, the Aragonese 
Capuchins were forced to take refuge for a month 
from the auger of a warlike chief of the Tuapocanos. 
By torchlight, and accompanied by the dismal shriek- 
ings of the guacheros, they celebrated mass in this 
primeval fastness. What a subject for some native 
painter ! 

The second division of the cave, 6i6 feet long, is 
composed of a hardened argillaceous marl, constantly 
bathed by the rivulet running through it, and desti- 
tute alike of birds or other living inhabitant. 

The tJdrd part, inhabited by great numbers of 
lapas, is 367 feet long, and is the most beautiful 
part of the cave. The roof appears a great crystal 
arch. The floor is carpeted with lovely petrifactions. 
The stalagmites assume the form of pyramids, obelisks, 
and columns, sometimes white and sometimes coloured. 
In the middle of this magic scene rises a species of 
tabernacle, white as alabaster, and shining like sil- 
ver.''" Humboldt and Codazzi have both visited these 
caverns, and spoken with enthusiasm of their beauty 
and grandeur, f Near the entrance to the cave 
tobacco cultivation is carried on, and the plant is 
said to have an exceedingly rich flavour. Its excel- 
lence is attri1)uted to the use of the guachero guano. 

* " A subteiTiinean temple originated by the cuuvulsioiis of the 
globe, and embellished by the hand of the Creator ; Gothic roof, Byzan- 
tine arch, Greek column, capital of capricious form, all here is His 
work ; His chisel, corroding time ; His marble, the drops of water which 
filter from above." — N. B. Peraza. 

t Humboldt's description is well known. Codazzi's account of his 
visit is not in his Geography. It was written in 1835, and is printed 
in El Diario de Caracas, i2lh July 1871. 

VOL. I. E 



66 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. iv. 



Several interesting caves were discovered by Mr. Auton 
Goering in this state, which have been fully described 
by him, under the name of the " New Caves of the 
Gaucheros," in the " Vargasia," No. 5, for 1869." There* 
are also the grotto of Cuchivano, from whose subter- 
ranean depths at times issue great flames, and the 
submarine thermal springs of the Gulf of Cariaco. 
Of the many places in the eastern part of Venezuela 
possessing aguas te7^males (hot- water springs), those 
of Cartipano have excited most interest. Beds of 
sulphur, and veins of lead ore containing silver, have 
been found in the State of Cumand. 

El Estado de Maturin (one of the eastern states), 
was formerly part of Nueva Andalusia ; its general 
characteristics are similar to those of the adjoining 
departments of Nueva Barcelona and Cumand. It 
has a population of 48,000. Maturin, the capital, 
has 13,000 inhabitants. 

El Estado de Nueva Esparta, is composed of 
several groups of islands, that of Margarita being the 
only one of any importance. The now almost aban- 
doned pearl-fishery first attracted the Spanish settlers 
to this quarter. Margarita measures 41 miles from 
E. to W. and 20 miles from N. to S., and has a coast- 
line of 100 miles, with two important ports, Pam- 
patar and Juan Griego. The capital, Asuncion, 
contains only 2758 inhabitants. It possesses two 
mountains of considerable altitude ; the first, Copei, 
4173 feet, is cultivated, and the second, Macanao, 
4500 feet, is all waste land. The smaller islands are 

* Appendix Q., No. 235. 



Chap, iv.] ISLAND OF MARGARITA. 67 



Coche, Cubagua, Blanquilla, La Sola, Los Testigos, Los 
Frayles, and Los Hermanos. The climate is con- 
sidered to be very healthy, in spite of the extreme 
heat. It will be understood, however, that on or 
near the summits of the highest elevations a perfectly 
agreeable temperature can be obtained. The satellite 
islands are, for the most part, desert; but Margarita 
itself has no lack of fertile land, devoted to the cul- 
tivation of coffee, maize, yuca, beans, and rich tropical 
fruit, less attention than usual being given to cacdo. 
Margarita is notable in Venezuelan history as the 
scene of the bloody vagaries of that human monster 
known as " The Tyrant Aguirre," '" and for the gallant 
defence made by its people against Morillo, the 
Spanish general, who landed with a force of 3000 
men, but, after a month of continuous fighting, was 
obliged to give up the thought of its subjugation. 
Nueva Esparta gave many famous citizens to the 
Republic, amongst whom were Sucre, Mondgas, Ber- 
miidez, Cagigal, Marino, and Arismendi. Its popula- 
tion is 31,000. 

El Estado de Yaracuy (one of the central states), 
has a climate, generally speaking, healthy, except in 
the lowlands and marshes bordering the sea. Its 
extent of coast is very small, being a narrow strip at 
the mouth of the River Yaracuy. The land produces 
coffee, cacao, maize, indigo, and cotton, and a large 
variety of fruits, plants, and valuable timber trees. 
Its mineral wealth consists of the famous copper- 

" An account of Aguirre is given in the " Ancient History of Vene- 
zuela," Appendix A. 



68 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. iv. 

mines of the mountains of Aroa, now the property 
of an English company, though formerly owned by 
Simon Bolivar. [These mines are described in a sub- 
sequent chapter."^''] The capital of the state, contain- 
ing 6320 inhabitants, is San Felipe, a pretty town, 
the centre of considerable trade. Population of 
Yaracuy, 71,689. 

El Estado de Barquisimeto, one of the "middle 
states," has the serranias of Tocuyo traversing it, the 
highest mountain peak being Cabimbii, 11,739 feet. 
The chief river is the Tocuyo, which empties itself 
near the port of that name, in the adjoining state of 
Coro. Its principal lake, Cabra, is suggestively called 
La Cienaga (the marsh). Except in the vicinity of 
this water, and some other swampy low-lying spots, the 
climate is not unhealthy. Sugar-cane, coffee, cereals, 
and fruits, are abundantly cultivated. Barquisi- 
meto has warm, cold, and temperate districts, smiling 
valleys, wild mountains, bare and arid hills, plains 
almost sterile, and lands well fitted for aoriculture and 
stock-farming. The rearing of goats is an important 
part of the industry of its people. The capital, bearing 
the same name as the state, was founded in 1552, and 
has now 25,664 inhabitants. In 1 8 1 2 it was destroyed 
by an earthquake. In this state is the picturesque 
Quebrada de Humucaros, with its pretty waterfall. 
With the exception of that of Guarico, the state of Bar- 
quisimeto contains a larger population than any other 
in the Union, f 

El Estado de Coro (one of the western states), now 

* See Chapter xxix. f The last census gave a total of 143. Si i. 



Chap, iv.] CORO. 69 

called " Falcon," in honour of El Gran Mariscal, 
has a population of 100,000. It is 213 miles in 
length from east to west, and 144 miles from north 
to south, and has about 350 miles of coast, containing 
many anchoring places and ports, the principal being 
La Vela de Coro. The peninsula of Paraguana forms 
the little Gulf of Coro. The state may be divided 
into two districts — the one populated and healthy, 
containing rich valleys^ hills, and plains, covered with 
a plentiful vegetation ; the other unhealthy, covered 
with woodlands, hot. and bare hills, lands dry and 
arid, and set off only by plentiful crops of thorns. 
The capital, Coro (founded in 1527), is a town of 
8172 inhabitants. It was the place where the cere- 
mony of High Mass was first performed in Venezuela. 
Until 1578 it was the capital of the new colony, and 
from it sallied forth the numerous expeditions to find 
El Dorado. The Peninsula of Paraouana is renowned 
in the Republic for its beautiful shells. These are in 
great request for artificial flower-making, which is one 
of the fine arts of Venezuela. The thermal springs of 
La Cuiva are noticeable for the varying colour of 
their waters, their strange taste, and violent chang- 
ing temperature. Amongst its mineral productions 
are coal, argentiferous galena, jet, and asphaltum. 
The waterworks of Coro, designed by General L. 
Urdaneta, are considered to have lieen excellently 
well engineered.* 

* It Avas in this state that an attempted revolution under General 
Leon Colino took place in 1874. It ori.^inated in Cura/.ao, and proved 
a complete failure. The Venezuelans justly blame the Dutcli Govern- 
ment for not havint; taken steps to prevent the open shipment of arms, 
ammunition, &c., from the island for the insurgents. 



70 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. iv. 

El Estado de Zulia (one of the western states), 
from east to west, is i8o miles, and 300 miles from 
north to south, and has 1 70 miles of coast, and a 
population (by the last census), numbering 59,235. 
Its capital and chief port, Maracaybo, stands within 
the lake which empties itself into the Gulf of Vene- 
zuela or Maracaybo, formed between the peninsulas 
of Goajira and Paraguand. At the entrance to the lake 
of Maracaybo are the islands of San Carlos, Bajo-Seco, 
and Zapara, the two last having abandoned fortresses, 
though the first is still defended by a castle. The 
lake itself is an expanse of fresh water, measuring 
414 miles in circumference. Its extreme points are 
137 miles from north to south, and 75 miles from 
east to west. There are various small islands on the 
lake ; that called Bury^o — the donkey — bears a laza- 
reto, whilst another — Toas — rejoices in a coal mine. 

The accompanying view of the Lake of Maracaybo 
conveys a good idea of its glory and beauty. In the 
foreground is the dark, swampy soil, with the gansas, 
blue, white, and red, playing upon its banks, and the 
calm waters of the lake stretching away until they 
reach " the sunken sun," whose radiance still lingers 
in the heavens above. Dense, silent, and motionless 
forests creep up to the unruffled margin of this placid 
lake. Far back to the foot-hills of the tall sierras, in 
unbroken grandeur, stretch the primeval woods, soli- 
tudes undisturbed save by the savage Indian, fighting 
alike against wild animals and the almost impene- 
trable barriers that Nature has placed around his 
tortuous path. To the left and right here and there 




SCENE ON THE LAKE OF MARACAYBO. 



Chap, iv.] MARACAYBO. 71 

rise lofty trees, their dark foliage already reminding 
one of the coming of the night. In the far distance, 
on the left, come sloping down a chain of hills, to 
complete a picture wherein there is blended the love- 
liness of earth and sky. 

The northern part of the lake is warm and healthy, 
the southern humid and insalubrious. Besides this 
great lake there are several smaller ones, and an 
innumerable array of large lagunas and marshes. 

The physical aspect of the country presents varied 
features. Some portions of the land are dry and 
rugged, others have the soil well irrigated by rivers, 
which, at certain seasons, overflow their banks : there 
are savannas, low mountain ranges quite desert, and 
immense forests and waste tracks dotted with lakes 
and marshes. The timber of Maracaybo is noted for 
its large size, good quality, and variety of species ; a 
considerable revenue might be derived by the state 
from its export, as the quantity existing on the banks 
of the lake is practically inexhaustible. Maracaybo, 
the capital of Zulia, was founded in 1571, and has 
now 21,954 inhabitants. It is a rich and flourishing 
town, and does an enormous business with the states of 
the Cordillera, most of the coff"ee grown there finding its 
way to the port of Maracaybo for shipment. In the war 
of independence the lake was notable for the naval vic- 
tory gained by the patriots over Laborde, who entered 
it in 1823. To the natural philosopher, it is interest- 
ing from the curious phenomenon known as the Parol 
de Maracayho, a luminous meteor, resembling light- 
ninpf, sometimes visible at one end of the lake. 



72 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap iv. 

El Estado de Trujillo (one of the middle states), is 
70 miles from east to west, and 80 miles from north 
to south. It has two ports on the lake of Maracaybo. 
Part of the cordillera of the Andes runs through this 
state, the highest point being the paramo of Caldera, 
1 2,464 feet. Its principal rivers are the Motatan and 
the Bocono, respectively of the second and third 
class, but tliere are altogether thirty streams. One of 
these, the Momboi, takes its rise in the lake of the 
same name. The state contains land fit for the culti- 
vation of all fruits generally found in warm and tem- 
perate regions. It has also localities adapted for 
cattle-breeding, and, with the exception of some places 
near the lake, the climate, if variable, is healthy. 
The quality of the wheat grown in this state is con- 
sidered to be unsurpassed, and received the first prize 
at the Paris Exhibition. Though the state itself has 
a large population (108,672), the capital, Trujillo 
(founded in 1556), has only 2698 inhabitants. In 
1668 the city was sacked by Grammont, the buc- 
caneer. Here, on the 15th of July 181 3, Bolivar, as 
a reprisal, and in retaliation for the butchery of Ee- 
publican prisoners, issued his famous decree of " La 
guerra d muerte." Here also, in 1820, he concluded 
the treaty with Morillo, placing the war upon a more 
regular and humane footing. 

El Estado de Me7ida has lately had its name 
changed to Guzman, by which nom de guerre it will 
have to be known hereafter. The snow peaks of the 
state of Merida are the highest in Venezuela. This 
branch of the Andes constitutes the true Alpine dis- 



Chap. IV.] MERIDA AND TACHIRA. 73 

trict of the Republic, and reaches its extreme height 
in the Picacho de la Sierra Nevada, 15,027 feet. The 
tropical vegetation on the lower ranges of these 
mighty mountains stands out in picturesque contrast 
to the surrounding eternal white snow-peaks. The 
rivers, for the most part, are not very important ; the 
lakes are those of Urao, and of the lydramo of Santo 
Domingo. In the first-named place is found the 
mineral urao. The climate varies accordino- to the 

o 

altitude, but is chiefly cold or temperate. The valleys 
are cultivated in the usual Venezuelan style, and 
alternate with snow-capped mountains, wild deserts, 
great hills covered with wood or grain, waste lands, 
villao-es, and immense forests with wonderful veaeta- 
tion. Wheat is grown to great perfection in this 
state. Merida, the capital, founded in 1558, has 
9727 inhabitants, and is the seat of a bishopric* 
Mucuchies is the highest town in Venezuela, and 
stands 7 743 feet above the level of the sea. 

El Estado de Tacldra (one of the western states), 
is composed entirely of mountain ranges, containing 
fruitful valleys and rich woodlands ; Zumbador, 9049 
feet is the highest mountain. The climate is of 
course cold in the Alpine heights, but warm in the 
low-lying vales. Its chief jDorts are Tachira on the 
Zulia, leading to the Lake of Maracaybo, and Teteo 
on the Uribante, leading to the Apure and to the 
Orinoco. Coffee, wheat, sugar-cane, and cacdo are 
cultivated. This state is of considerable importance, 

* The state of Merida has a population of 67,849, as shown by tlie 
census of 1873. 



74 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. iv. 

as its capital, San Cristobal,* standing at an elevation 
of 2998 feet, is the commercial centre of the transac- 
tions between Venezuela and the neighbouring repub- 
lic of Colombia. Tachira has some hot- water springs, 
and, what may prove of more importance, coal and 
petroleum. Its population by the last return was 
68,619. 

El Estado de Zamora (one of the middle states), 
boasts of two very high mountains— Santo Domingo, 
being 13,137 feet, and Granite, 12,930 feet; the 
ranges are chiefly the southern slopes of the sierras of 
Merida and Trujillo. The principal rivers are the 
Bocono, the Masparro, the Uribante, and the Caparro, 
and some other tributaries of the A pure, which are 
navigable for long distances. There are many small 
lakes in the savannas, but none of very great extent. 
The climate is cold or temperate in tlie mountains, 
but hot in the plains, where there are spots well- 
calculated to give fevers to foreigners. The greater 
part of Zamora is composed of beautiful savannas, 
intersected by rivers, whose banks are capable of cul- 
tivation. The mountains, enclosing lovely valleys, 
are covered for long spaces by virgin forests. Barinas, 
the capital, was founded in 1576, and has now 3950 
inhabitants. In 18 14 it was sacked and burned by 
Spanish troops. Zamora has capabilities alike for 
agriculture, commerce, and cattle-breeding. Though 
the state is large, the population is small, the last 
count having shown only 59,449. 

* The state of Tachira suffered severely from a terrible earthquake 
in 1875, ^^"^ Cristobal being almost entirely destroyed, and its popu- 
lation, numbering 3345, rendered houseless. 



Chap. IV.] THE PROVINCE OF APURE. I^o 

El Estado de Portugueza (one of the middle 
states), much resembles that of Zamora; its moun- 
tains are the eastern declivities of the Andes of Tru- 
jillo ; its lands consist of well-watered savannas and 
dense forests, and the same class of fruits and food 
staples are cultivated therein. Guauare, the capital, 
was founded in 1593, by Juan Fernandez de Leon. 
Its present population is 4674, whilst that of the 
whole state is 79,934. 

El Estado 6 Provincia de A])ure is a fair specimen 
of the llano country. It is an immense horse and 
cattle-breeding savanna, abounding in small woods, 
and watered by springs and streams traversing it in 
every direction. The only mountains it possesses are 
those situated in a small section of the state on the 
borders of Colombia. Next to Guayana it is one of 
the three largest states in the Union, from east to 
west extending 350 miles, and from north to south 1 24 
miles. The increase of the population during the last 
forty years is set down at 3000. The total for the 
whole state has been estimated at only 18,635. The 
poorest portion of the people are the holders of the 
little conucos (cottage farms), on which are cultivated 
maize and other kinds of food necessary for existence. 
The agriculture of the Apure is indeed very meagre. 
The country is evidently destined for stock-breeding ; 
the soil, however, has been found to be favourable to 
the culture of tobacco, and that grown in Apure is 
said to have superior quality and flavour; but this 
I could not accord to it. During part of the year 
there is a good deal of fishing in the state, and the 



76 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. iv. 

flcsli of the chiguire is made an article of trade with 
other provinces. Animal life is so abundant that 
families may easily be maintained without touching 
their herds. Among the birds of the Apure is a 
small owl, whose unearthly cry of ya-acaho ! — " it is 
finished " — is thought to presage sorrow and death ; a 
cross is usually made of hot ashes in front of the 
house to drive away the prophet of evil.'" The 
jaguar and puma are found in this state, and their 
ravages form the stock subject of the guides' and 
llaneros' legendary narratives. 

The most famous fish of the Apure is the dreaded 
carihe, a marine cannibal, whose taste for blood is 
greatly feared by the fisherman. It is armed with 
teeth strong enough to pierce steel. A spur- wounded 
horse is soon reduced to a skeleton in attemj)ting to 
ford a stream frequented by these terril)le creatures. 

It is said that Bolivar's nervous temperament was 
greatly tried when crossing one of the savannas in 
the rainy season in company with Paez. 

The leaping of the caribes into the boat, aided, 
perhaps, by the Apure chieftain, fretted the anxious 
spirit of the Liberator, until at length he exclaimed : 
" Put back the boat, for even the fish are savage 
in this country ! " 

The district is not so well wooded as other j)arts of 
the Republic, but is rich in those kinds of wood used 
for funeral purposes, such as mulberry, laurel, &c. 
Balsam copaiba is obtained by cutting the aceite- 

* Don Ramou Paez has <fiven some curious particulars of Venezuelan 
birds of ill omen in his " Life on the Llanos," Appendix Q., No. 171. 



Chap, iv.] LIFE IN THE LLANOS. 11 

tree. India-rubber and some other gums can also be 
extracted from trees of this province. 

The capital, called San Fernando del Apure,^'" 
standing on the right bank of the river Apure, has 
a population of 3000, and is a place of great commer- 
cial importance, as it does a considerable trade with 
the frontier states ; it is also a depot for receiving 
and forwarding merchandise to all parts of tlie 
interior, and produce to Ciudad-Bolivar. The 
llaneros of Apure were amongst the most famous 
soldiers of the War of Independence. 

Life in the llanos is a rude warfare with nature, 
and well calculated to develo^^ those qualities of 
bravery and dashing ingenuity, displayed in so 
remarkable a degree, by the soldiers of Paez, in 
their struggles with the Spaniards. 

El Estaclo 6 Provincia de Guayana is the largest 
in the Union, in fact, larger than the w^hole of the 
others collectively. It has Brazil on the south ; the 
states of Apure, Guarico, Barcelona, and Maturiu, 
and the Atlantic Ocean on the north ; the Kepublic of 
Colombia on the west ; and British Guiana and the 
Atlantic Ocean on the east. It is over 650 miles in 
extent from north to south, and 700 from east to 
west. The population of Guayana has been estimated 
at 57,000, or one inhaljitant to four square miles. 
It has 300 miles of coast-line, and its chief port, 
Ciudad-Bolivar, stands on the right bank of the 

* San Fernando del Apure was the place in which the " Blue " parly 
was finally overthrown, by General Guzman Blanco, in the campaign of 
1872. 



78 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. iv. 

Orinoco, 287 miles from its mouth. The islands of 
Cangrcjos and Corocuro belong to this state. The 
Delta of the Orinoco is of immense size, containing 
13,430 square miles, and divided into islets by the 
thirty-six channels through which the Orinoco empties 
itself into the sea. The waters at Ciudad-Bolivar rise 
80 feet when the melted snow from the Andes comes 
down. The mountains of Guayana form a separate 
system, known as the Sierra Parima. The highest 
point is the Penon Maraguaca, 8228 feet, mentioned 
in the previous chapter. 

Guayana has 286 rivers, and nearly 800 smaller 
streams. The chief liveTS are the Orinoco, Guaviare, 
Meta, Caroni, Cuyuni, and Rio-Negro ; next in im- 
portance are the Inirida, Vichada, Caura, Paragua, 
Ventuari, Siapa, Sipapo, Padamo, Chuchivero, Aro, 
Cunucunuma, Mazaruni, Yuruari, and Brazo del 
Casiquiare ; followed by the Ocamo, Atabapo, Paci- 
moni, Suapure, Icavaro, Aguirre, Mavaca, Imataca, 
and Puruni, which are considered rivers of third-Teite 
importance. Many of these streams are navigable 
for long distances, but they have all rapids (raudales), 
some of which are difficult to pass. The rapids of the 
Orinoco have been rendered famous by Humboldt. 

The climate of Guayana is generally hot and un- 
healthy, and is considered entirely unsuitable for Euro- 
peans. Near the great swamps and forests, subject to 
continual rain and flood, and where the sunlight can 
rarely penetrate through the dense vegetation, the 
moisture and heat are alike unbearable. 

Guayana is physically separated into three great 



Chap, iv.] G[/AVANA. 79 

divisions, correspoDding to the course of the river 
Orinoco. " La primeixi direccion del Orinoco y 
separacion del Casiquiare" is the region of wood- 
lands, crossed by white and black rivers, and where 
the rainfall is almost continuous. Here is very little 
of civilised life ; the Indians of the missions live on 
the banks of the Orinoco, the Casiquiare, and Eio- 
Negro, whilst their untamed brethren disport them- 
selves on the margin of many others, as well as in the 
interior of the forests. To the second division has 
been given the name " La primera injiexion del 
Orinoco,"" which is the region of the Great Eapids. 
Here are forests tenanted by savages, and savannas 
where docile Indians traffic with the few white resi- 
dents. At the cataracts is a region of calm, but 
lower down there is a district where truly " the 
stormy winds do blow." The third portion, "La 
segunda injiexion del Orinoco" is the most populated, 
and has some commerce with the llanos. Whilst the 
Christianised Indians live in the settlements, the 
nomades roam in the great forests ending in the 
sierra of Pacaraima, where storm and calm alternate, 
and where it rains all the year round. 

Guayana has many natural curiosities, the greatest 
of them, literally and metaphorically, being the rau- 
dales of the Atiires and Maipures.'" Worthy of notice 

* " Late intelligence from Venezuela announces the discovery of a 
waterfall from a height higher than the highest previously known. A 
tributary of the Orinoco, descending bodily from a cliff 2000 feet high, 
and afterwards rushing down 3000 feet at an angle of 45 degrees, is, 
according to the account of Mr. Charles Brown, a sight which will yet 
attract the attention of geographers. No mention is made by Hum- 



80 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. iv. 



also are the painted rocks of La Encaramada and 
Caicara, the black waters of the Upper Orinoco, the 
rich forests of Inirida, and the caverns of the Rio- 
Negro. At the last-named spot is a narrow rift in 
the mountain, and at the top is a grotto, wherein 
Indian skeletons and urns have been discovered. As 
the Atiires are believed to have been destroyed by 
constant warfare, some centuries ago, the objects 
found by M. Thirion have considerable antiquity. 
A skull which he brought away is remarkable for its 
prognathism, and its approach to the dolicephalic 
form. 

The poisoned arrows of the Indians have been a 
matter of wonder. The ourari or ivourali, as the 
deadly liquid is called, is supposed to owe its toxic 
effects to the Strychnos toxifera, although the Indians 
pretend that it is made of the fangs of the most 
venomous snakes. This statement is probably due, 
partly to their love of lying, and partly to the fact 
that the symptoms caused by it are not unlike those 
following snake bites. It may be taken without 
danger into the stomach, but when it is injected into 
the blood, it acts upon the nervous system, and leads 
to paralysis, and ends in death by asphyxia. In 

boklt of such a phenomenon, but in a country so extensive as Vene- 
zuela, we need not suppose that it does not exist because not discovered 
or heard of by the great explorer in his memorable expedition into 
the remotest parts of the Republic, where the Orinoco lends the charm 
of magnitude to its surroundings. An earlier expedition of Mr. 
Brown's was the means of discovering a fall in Guayana four times the 
height of Niagara, and the undoubted truth of this first discovery 
having been proved by more than one Englishman, we may reasonably 
conclude that this greater di.^'covery on the part of Mr. Brown is not 
less true." — Venezuela : its PeoiAe. and its Products. 



Chap, iv.] INDIAN GAGE D' AMOUR. 81 

shooting these arrows, the Indians do not employ 
bows, but long tubes of sabraeane, from which they 
can blow them with such precision as to strike even 
small birds in the highest trees. When the intention 
is not to kill, but to capture, they administer an anti- 
dote to the animal stupified by its wourali wound. 
The antidote is said to be simply common salt.* 

When an Indian of the Rio-Negro is smitten by 
the charms of some dusky belle, and has secured the 
good-will of her parents, they give him a bit of quartz, 
chosen for its hardness and transparency. This raw 
material he is expected to transform into a neat, 
cylindrical- shaped ornament. At one end he per- 
forates a hole, through which he passes a ribbon, 
decorated with the plumage of the parroquet. This 
gay-looking gage d'amour he then hangs upon his 
lady's neck in token of betrothal, f The preparation 
of the Piedra de los SoUeros requires so much labour 
that there is little danger of the Indian marrying in 
haste, however much he may repent at leisure. It is 
evident, from this custom, that quartz jewellery was 
known long before the Californians made it. 

The capital of Guayana was commenced in 1575, 
when it was called Santo Tomas de Guayana ; in 
1 59 1 it was translated, and in 1764 again removed, 
this time to the locality it now occupies, under the 
name of Ciudad-Bolivar or Angostura.! It is remark- 

* "Exp. Univ. de 1867, Venezuela Notice," Piiris, 1867, p. 31. 

+ One of these stones was exhibited in the Paris Exhibition, 1867. 

X An original MS. map of the city, with its fortifications, under the 
Spanish rule, hangs in the map-room of the Royal Geographical Society, 
The auihor secured it in Caracas. 

VOL. I. F 



82 THE LAND OF JWLIVAR. [Chap iv. 

able in history for its capture by the patriots in 1 8 1 7, 
and for the declaration of the independence of Ven- 
ezuela, made here in November 1818. The second 
Congress, which led to the formation of the expedition 
for the liberation of Nueva Granada, was held in this 
town. This expedition secured the liberty of Colom- 
bia, the great republic that fell to pieces with the 
death of its founder, Bolivar, and is now divided into 
three sovereign republics, Ecuador, Colombia (Nueva 
Granada), and Venezuela. The population of the 
capital is 8486. Finally, Ciudad-Bolivar is famous 
for its Angostura bitters — Amargo de Siegert. 
About 7000 cases yearly pass through the Custom 
House. 



CHAPTER V. 

EXCUKSION TO THE COAL DISTKICT OF NUEVA BARCELONA. 

" Yet simple Nature to his hope has given, 
Behind the cloud- topped hill, a humbler lieaven ; 
Some safer world in depth of woods embraced, 
Some happier island in the watery waste. 
Where slaves once more their native land behold, 
No fiends torment, nor Christians thirst for gold." — Pope. 

The importance of a good supply of coal to a young 
and rising country cannot be over-estimated. As 
there was a general impression in Caracas tliat very 
extensive beds of this mineral existed in Nueva Bar- 
celona, I determined to pay a visit to that state, to 
learn whether " black diamonds " could be obtained 
in anything like paying quantities. Other persons 
had visited this carboniferous district before, but no 
very definite idea as to the extent of it had been 
formed. Captains of steamers and engineers, who 
had used the " Mundo Nuevo " coal, had reported it 
to be of first-rate quality. 

On the ist of April (certainly not an auspicious 
day), accompanied by Generals Nicanor Bolet Peraza 
and Leopoldo Terrero, I started from La Guayra. The 
" Dudley Buck," a wretched, miserable vessel, dignified 
by the name of a steamer, but in reality half a lighter 
and half a hulk, took us on board, and having got up 



84 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. v. 



steam, proceeded at full speed, something less than the 
pace of a metropolitan four-wheeler, to our destination, 
the port of Nueva Barcelona. After some hours' sail, 
Cabo Codera was conspicuous in view. This pro- 
montory forms an important landmark, as it termi- 
nates the coast chain of mountains. It is reported to 
be the stormiest point on the Caribbean Sea. 

We met on board an old military officer who had 
taken an active part in the War of Independence. 
He deplored, in touching accents, the present state of 
the country, and the disasters to her industry involved 
by a long-continued series of civil wars. Another 
passenger — a young general — seemed to think intes- 
tine broils rather good things! He was an honest 
good-hearted joven, and we had some strong argu- 
ments on the subject, in which I felt at a disadvan- 
tage, not having sufficient Spanish to convey my 
eloquence, and so was obliged to explain my views 
physically or get them translated. 

Thus commenced a campaign against civil war, 
which lasted throughout my residence in Venezuela, 
and was carried on morning, noon, and night, in 
season and " out of season," with high and low, rich 
and poor, political and non-political, amarillo y azul, 
from the President down to the humblest ohrero with 
whom I came in contact. 

The port of Barcelona is nothing but an open road- 
stead, very shallow along shore, with a shifting sandy 
bottom, that will always defy improvement ; nor are 
there any natural advantages in the conformation of 
the land necessary to make a good port. Here cargo 



Chap, v.] THE MONAGAS FAMIL Y. 85 



must be disembarked iu a small boat, which is fatal to 
anything like extensive commerce. No vessel can get 
nearer than three-quarters of a mile to the shore. 

On the morning of the 3d we landed, and rode up 
to the city of Nueva Barcelona, the capital of tlie 
state, 2>h miles from the beach. We were hospitably 
received by General Jose Gregorio Mondgas, president 
of the state. To him and to his brothers, General 
Dominixo and Sefior Cruz, my thanks are due for 
marked attentions received during the whole of my 
visit. The family of Monagas is one of the oldest 
and best in the country, and has provided three presi- 
dents for the Republic ; whilst other members of it 
have attained high political positions, both in the 
service of the federation and in the state of Barcelona, 
where they wield great influence and own large por- 
tions of the land. A peaceful state of things would 
ensure them a princely income. 

On our way to the city we passed the ruins of La 
Casa Fuerte, the scene of one of the bloodiest epi- 
sodes in the War of Independence. In the year 1 8 1 7, 
Aldama, commander of the Spanish armed forces, 
takin<x advantage of the fact that Nueva Barcelona 
was not well guarded, made an attack on the Plaza. 
The patriot troops and the inhabitants took refuge in 
the old Franciscan convent of the Hospicio, called 
also La Casa Fuerte. 

After two or three days' siege, a priest, under pre- 
text of looking for water, went to the Spanish camp 
and said to Aldama, "I will show you the only place 
where you can make an entrance." 



86 7JJE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. v. 

Aklaraa directed liis attack to this point, and, 
Laving made a breach in the vvalis, entered, and all 
its brave defenders were massacred without mercy. 

There was a second bastion guarded by Valez, but 
it was too weak to afford any security. He defended 
it, however, with desperate bravery, and then cut his 
way out, sword in hand, and so enabled a few of the 
garrison to escape. Aldama, who seems to have been 
impressed by his heroism, cried out, " Save this young 
man ! Save this brave officer at any cost^ " * Valez, 
however, saved himself. Two other well-known cha- 
racters, Fristes and Rivas, also escaped, but, being 
badly wounded, they were soon afterwards taken 
prisoners, sent on to Caracas, and shot on the Plaza. 

One of the chiefs of the patriot party, an English- 
man named Chamberlain, was lying wounded in a 
cell of La Casa Fuerte, attended by his wife, and 
during the slaughter a Spanish official entered and 
said to the woman, " If you will come with me I will 
save your husband." 

Two pistols were lying upon the table, and she re- 
plied by taking one of them and shooting the man 
dead. Offering the other to her husband she said, " 1 
prefer death at the hands of my husband to dishonour 
from a Spaniard." 

Chamberlain could not bring himself to so dreadful 
a sacrifice, and whilst they were conversing, the 
adjutant of Aldama entered the room and asked, 
"Who is that man on the bed?" " My husband,"' 

* " Salven a esejoven ! salvcn a todo coda a este valiente oficial." 



Chap, v.] SPANISH CHIVALR Y. 87 

she replied. The wretch immediately pistolled the 
wounded man. 

The lady, maddened by the sight of her dead hus- 
band, seized the discarded weapon, and with it made 
the arch-fiend bite the dust. Aldama, who had 
missed his adjutant, came to seek him, but found only 
his dead body. 

The heroic woman, who had thus bravely defended 
her own honour and avenged the murder of her hus- 
band, was, by order of the chivalrous Spanish general, 
passed on horseback before all his troops, and then 
shot in front of La Casa Fuerte. 

Amongst those who had sought shelter in the place 
was a young and beautiful girl, daughter of one of the 
leading citizens of Barcelona. She had taken refuge 
on the roof, but, finding that the Spaniards were 
endeavouring to secure her person, she, fearing out- 
rage from the soldiers, threw herself off" the top of the 
building and was instantly dashed to pieces. Four 
women, less happy in their fate than she, were given 
up to the brutality of the Royalists. 

Looking upon the blood-stained ruins of La Casa 
Fuerte, no one can wonder at the intense hatred with 
which Spain is regarded by the present generation. 

The wretched priest, whose treachery had caused 
this slaughter and bloodshed, left Barcelona and hid 
himself in Caracas, where he was known for long 
years after by the sobriquet of " Corona de Sangre " 
(crown of blood). 

La Opinion Nacional (February 3, 1871) pub- 
lishes the original despatch of Aldama, in which he 



88 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. v. 

announces the taking of La Casa Fuertc. He is, of 
course, judiciously silent about "Corona de Sangre," 
but his testimony is sufficient to show that the 
patriots have not exaggerated the horrors which the 
Spaniards perpetrated in the War of Independence. 
"31 as de mil cadaver es,"" says Aldama, " de la guarni- 
cion y i^articidares adictos d la rebelion encei^rados 
en la casa fuerte, mordieron el poho, y ijagaron su 
loco fi^enesi." * Further on, he says that when he 
learned there were many private individuals who had 
taken refuge, he called upon them to surrender, and 
promised that their lives should be spared. " My 
desire was to avoid that effusion of blood which I 
saw was otherwise inevitable." t 

After this dismal tale, noticing some plantains, I 
was told a story of an Italian quack doctor of Barce- 
lona, who was called upon to attend an Englishman 
who had fever. He knew nothing of the disease, and 
trusted to the chapter of accidents to bring the patient 
safe through. In the course of the night the sick man 
ate a- large bunch of plantains, and in the morning 
was so much better that the doctor inquired what he 
had taken, and on being informed, made a note in his 
memorandum book that the fruit of the plantain-tree 
was a sure remedy for fevers. (It is proverbially the 
worst thing a person in a fever can take.) Some 
time after he was called upon to cure a Frenchman 

* " More than a thousand persons of the garrison and of civilians 
implicated in the rebellion, who were in 2'he Strong House, bit the dust 
and paid for their madness." 

t " Mi dnimo fue el de evitar la efiision de sangre, que en otro case 
miraha como inevitable.'" 



Chap, v.] TRADE OF NEW BARCELONA. 89 

who was ill of the same disease, but in spite of the 
doctor's liberal dose of plantains, the Frenchman died. 
The quack, therefore, added to his former note " that 
plantains, although a sure remedy for fever-stricken 
patients, had no efi&cacy upon the French constitu- 
tion." 

New Barcelona was founded in 1637, and now, with 
its 8000 inhabitants, is a thriving, bustling, little 
town.* Although it has suffered somewhat from the 
Revolution and civil war, the energies of its people 
have not been impaired. The business of the place is 
chiefly in the hands of about six firms of good com- 
mercial standing and reputation. They import all 
the foreign goods the state requires, principally dry 
goods, flour, hardware, &c., and in return export the 
greater portion of its produce of cotton, coffee, cacdo, 
hides, fine timber, and the valuable dyewoods which 
abound here. 

The state itself has an area of 1 155 Spanish square 
leagues, equal to about 10,000 English square miles. 
The population amounts to 100,000, f the greater 
portion finding profitable occupation in the breeding 
of cattle and the cultivation of cotton, for which the 
extensive plains in the interior — district of Aragua — 
are peculiarly adapted. The valleys near the sea are 
devoted to agriculture, the produce being of a tropical 
character. On the coast are many salinas — salt 
marshes — but few of these have been utilised. The 



* Humboldt estimated the population in 1800 at 16,000. 
t The last census gave the state of Nueva Barcelona 101,393 inliabi- 
tants. 



90 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. v. 

state is well watered ; no less than eighty-eight rivers 
run tlirough it, many of them being navigable. 
Nueva Barcelona only wants a railway and a good 
harbour to enable it to develop itself. A line might 
be economically constructed from the capital to 
Soledad, near Ciudad-Bolivar. The road is perfectly 
level. The difficult navigation of the river Orinoco 
in this way would be avoided. This project is 
brought forward more 2:)rominently in a subsequent 
chapter. 

In this part of the Republic there are some tribes 
of Caribes, now a mild inoffensive people, very unlike 
their warlike ancestors. A family of this genus was 
introduced to me by the President of the state. In 
the matter of costume they w^ould not have passed 
muster in an English drawii]g-room ! In one respect, 
however, they were as civilised as English aldermen, 
for they presented me with an address couched in 
most flowery language, and which gave me more 
pleasure than those who are accustomed to receive 
such-like attentions usually experience ; nor was my 
gratification less from not understanding a word of it. 
The spokesmen of the tribe — the only professional 
class they have — exercise the functions of priests, 
jugglers, and physicians, a combination that might 
seem to have an element of the sarcastic, if we did 
not know how destitute of humour the Indians are. 
They reminded me of some red-skins whom I met in 
the vicinity of the river Colorado, in Arizona. On one 
occasion, surely an epoch in their history, they saw 
the point of a joke. A brave and his squaw brought 



Chap. V.J 



INDIANS. 



91 



some firewood to my camp, and as they wanted to 
charge twice its value, the purchase was declined. 
They were greatly enraged, and after loud maledic- 
tions, deliberately burned it. Some days after, they 
appeared again, this time with a bundle of hay for 




OEODP OF CARIBE INDIAKS. 



sale. To convince them of the error of their ways, 
about half its value was offered. On their declining 
this abatement, I took a match from my pocket, and 
suggested that they should make a bonfire of the hay 
also. A roar of " laughter inextinguishable " burst 



92 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. v. 

from the pair as the fun penetrated their hard heads. 
It was with difficulty they were induced to take any 
payment at all for the hay ! 

Like most other native tribes on the western con- 
tinent, the Caribes are gradually disappearing before 
the influences of the " white man." Bowing before 
the irresistible power of the " spirituous " sword of 
annihilation, falsely termed, in too many instances, 
civilization, they become less barbarous as their num- 
bers diminish. According to their own accounts, 
however, they are still the largest of all the Orinoco 
tribes. 

The rapacity and cruelty of the early Spanish 
adventurers fills us with horror. Our highly sensitive 
modern feelinojs are shocked at their blood-ouiltiness. 
We shudder at the narrative of the tortures they 
inflicted upon the Indians in their search for the land 
of El Dorado, until the poor savages, like 

" Exhausted travellers, that have undergone 
The scorching heats of Life's intemperate zone, 
Haste for refreshment to their beds beneath, 
And stretch themselves in the cool shades of death." 

And yet how heedlessly we pass by the deadlier 
destruction carried on amongst primitive races in our 
own day. The old conquistador slew the savage ; the 
modern settler places a weapon in his hands where- 
with he slays himself. The rum -bottle is more 
efiective than the sword. The one now and then held 
bloody carnival, the other works in detail unceasingly 
and apparently unseen. The occasional massacre — 
the wholesale blood-letting — with its piled-up victims, 



Chap, v.] A CARIBE LEGEND. 93 

was a mere molehill beside the mammoth mountain 
of misery and death wrought by the "fire-water" the 
white man brings from beyond the sea. 

The Caribes, like some other Indians, attribute to 
themselves a serpent origin, or have it attributed to 
them. One legend, in which the " fine Roman hand " 
of the Jesuitical padre is easily discernible, was cur- 
rent among the Salinas, who were often at war with 
the Caribes. According to this most reliable history, 
Puru sent his son from heaven to kill a terrible serpent 
devastating the Orinoco, and, when the animal was 
slain, said to it, " Vete al iiifierno maldito ! " which, 
mildly translated into English, means, " Take yourself 
off" to the principality of perpetual perdition, you 
personification of preternatural and pestiferous per- 
fidity ! " This happy state of afi"airs did not last long, 
for, as the beast putrified, there bred in its carcase 
great worms, from each of which stepj)ed forth a 
Caribe and his wife. It would lead us out of our 
way to discuss here the bearings of this mythological 
legend — certainly a curious one. 

Caribe Indians have always been credited with a 
fierceness that at present they do not possess. Civi- 
lization, chiefly in an alcoholic form, has softened 
their manners, and in some things they now greatly 
resemble their white brethren. In the matter of 
company — dress, for instance — the ladies of the tribe, 
like their fairer sisters, display much more of their 
personal charms than do their lords and masters. 
They have, however, a supreme contempt for the 
amenities of life. On their feast days, both men and 



94 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [ Chap. v. 



womcu dress themselves in tlie costume of the whites, 
not for the purpose of vanity, but of ridicule. It does 
not much matter what the garments are, or whether 
they are put to their original use. When the feast is 
over, these trappings are cast into the fire, round 
which the whole frantic crowd dance in that condition 
— the state of extreme nature — in which we all enter 
the world. 

The women are, of course, the beasts of burden, 
and it is painfully amusing to see the " weaker vessel" 
staggering along under the weight of the household 
gods, while the " head of the house," in fine feather, 
with martial tread, stalks on in all the glory of his 
manhood in the rear. The woman transports these 
in a caramute — a conical-shaped basket held by a 
band passing over her forehead ; and if there are chil- 
dren too young to walk, she carries them in a second 
basket, slung over her back in the same way. 

The " young swell " of the tribe, before he is duly 
qualified for the marriage state, has to undergo a 
course of physic, fasts, and penance. The girls marry 
at the age of ten and twelve. The ante-hymeneal 
proceedings are at least peculiar. The friends of the 
bride-elect collect together, and with much ceremony 
put her into a hammock, and give her as company for 
a certain time a quantity of live ants, wasps, centi- 
pedes, &c. If she bears this infliction calmly, she is con- 
sidered fit for the ills, troubles, and petty annoyances of 
matrimonial life, and the nuptials are at once blessed 
by the priest. What happens if her equanimity fails 
I could not learn. The thouerht of remaiuino^ unmar- 



Chap, v.] CHURCH OF SAN CRISTOBAL. 95 

ried, and degenerating into an aged spinster, is no 
doubt as terrible to the dusky belle of the Orinoco as 
it is to her blonde sister. 

Churches are sometimes built in a very leisurely 
fashion in Venezuela. The parish church of Barcelona, 
under the special protection of San Cristobal — as good 
a patron as could be desired in a warlike country — 
was commenced in 1748, but not finished until 1773. 
It is the only parish church in the state enjoying the 
high privilege of having been consecrated. 

Amongst its furniture is the extraordinary image 
of Succour — ^' La Prodigiosa Tmdgen del Socorro.''' 
It stands on an altar of stone, and is so highly vene- 
rated that it can only be carried in procession under 
a canopy. When the eight double joists supporting 
the roof were being raised to their present position, 
the entire neighbourhood was called in to help, and 
whilst the work was going on the miraculous image 
was uncovered and lit up. At the beginning its aid 
was invoked, and at the conclusion thanks were 
offered for the happy termination. If the image had 
allowed the devotees who were roofing it from the 
rain to be killed, its most ardent admirers could 
hardly have vindicated it from a charge of man- 
slaughter. But the church was built in the golden 
age of faith — a hundred years ago — when men were 
thankful for small mercies. The Iglesia de San 
Cristobal has much to interest the pious pilgrim. 
Besides the figure already mentioned, there are im- 
mense statues of the patron saint and of Santa 
Eulalia. There are also the following relics, which 



96 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. 



cannot fail to excite the liveliest feelings of devotion 
in the breasts of those who realise how near they are 
to those precious fragments of the sainted dead : — A 
bone of San Severiano, another of San Justo, another 
of Santa Benigna, another of Santa Victoria, another 
of San Eustachio, another of San Facuudo, another of 
San Pedro de Alcantara, another of San Pascual 
Bailon, another of San Pacifico, and another of Santa 
Anastacia ! This precious collection of holy curiosities 
is deposited in a crystal vase, enclosed in a covering 
of tin, and buried in a little sepulchre beneath the 
altar-stone. It may be well to add, for the sceptical, 
that the documents to authenticate these saintly orts 
were deposited with them, for even in the golden age 
there were whispers of forged relics ! The church had 
formerly the privilege of sanctuary, and has been dis- 
tinguished by various other favours. In the interior 
it has a fine appearance, although it is studiously 
plain. With the exception of the space behind the 
high altar, where there are five statues in niches, the 
effect is produced not by a profusion of ornament, 
but by the general impressive massiveness of the 
structure. 

Senor Tomas Potentiui has discovered near the 
city a spring of mineral water, which enjoys consider- 
able reputation in the Republic as a tonic. There is a 
natural spring of this description at La Plazoleta, and 
a consideration of the probabilities of the case led 
Senor Potentini to believe that the hidden stream 
passed under his own habitation. He constructed an 
artesian well, and at a depth of fifteen yards came 



C n ap. V. ] CO TTON C UL TI VA TION. 9 7 

upon the medicinal water. The name he has given 
to it — " Agua P7^ovide7icial de Fotentini^' — ought to 
make his fortune. 

On the 4th of April we started on horseback from 
the city for the coal mines of Naricual. Crossing 
a fine bridsre over the Neveri at Barcelona, we fol- 
lowed the right bank of the river for some distance, 
and met troops of peasantry toiling along with their 
produce to the city ; one of these, a mounted water- 
carrier, proved an interesting study. 

Cotton plantations, with trees all bearing good 
crops, dotted the plains here and there. This fruitful- 
ness surprised me not a little, after learning the rude 
and primitive process of cultivation of that all-impor- 
tant fibre. It may be briefly described as follows : 
— The labourer (peon), armed with the long-bladed 
"machete," the indispensable companion of the indus- 
trial class, clears the ground, and, having burnt the 
weeds and brushwood, takes a sharp-pointed stick, 
and makes a hole from four to six inches deep in the 
earth, and dro2:)s into it a few cotton seeds. These he 
then covers by ^^ressing the hole with his heel, and 
thus the crop is sown. It should, however, be added, 
that in every alternate one Indian-corn is planted, 
the distance apart being about two yards. From 
seed-time till harvest only one cleaning of the ground 
takes j)lace. Not a great amount of extra labour, 
judiciously applied, would be requisite to enable the 
planter to seize upon all the advantages offered by 
nature for his accej^tance in her lavish endowment of 
this district, and thus secure for himself a handsome 

VOL. I. G 



98 THE LAND OF JWLIVAR. [Chap. 



profit on his cotton venture. Unfortunately, however, 
he considers his maize crop as his staple, and the 
cotton a bye-product. The maize furnishes his daily 
bread, the cotton goes to his merchant — in some cases 
to pay debts previously contracted. 

Barcelona has about 7000 square miles of territory 
suitable for cotton. Now, as an acre can produce 
about 200 lbs., it follows that the 4,480,000 acres 
available would yield 896,000,000 lbs., or, say, 
3,000,000 bales per annum, an amount nearly equal 
to the production of the United States, The climate 
for cotton-growing is perfect, and there would be no 
danger of losing the crop, as sometimes happens in 
North America. In Aragua it is properly cultivated, 
and, as a natural consequence, the product is more 
satisfactory both in quality and quantity. The estab- 
lishment of a press for the extraction of the oil from 
the cotton seeds would be advantageous, as a con- 
siderable quantity is obtainable. 

We again crossed the river Neveri, and passed over 
much rich land (but very little of it under tillage), 
until we approached the Naricual, a branch of the 
former. This river passes through gorges in the con- 
tinuation of the chain of hills separating the valley 
of Aragua from the valley of Naricual. We had now 
to do some rough ridino^ over tall hills and throuo-h 
dense ravines till we struck the coal district. From 
one of these heights we had a fair view of the llanos 
of Barcelona, said to very much resemble those of 
Apure and Guarico, although on a smaller scale. At 
about three in the afternoon, tired with our journey. 



Ciiap. v.] COAL-BEDS. 99 

and oppressed with the intense heat — it was 90° in 
the shade — we determined to rest for the night, to 
prepare for the hard day's work in anticipation on 
the morrow. Our rendezvous was a hand-power 
sugar-mill on a small sugar-cane estate,'"' some dis- 
tance from the veins of coal, but to which we sent 
an Indian, who brought back enough samples for a 
trial. The result proved very satisfactory. 

Before daybreak we slipped out of our hammocks, 
and just as morning dawned we were en train for 
the coal mines. After half-an -hour's ride, two small 
coal veins were visible, stretching across the face of a 
bluff. These seams, broken up and not well defined, 
appeared to dip into the hill, the one at an angle of 
45°, and the other at about 15°. Higher up the river 
we came upon many more exposures of coal ; one bed 
in particular attained a maximum thickness of five 
feet. AVhen we had traced the carboniferous district 
for about three miles, I was taken suddenly ill, and felt 
unable to proceed further, although my companions 
wished to follow the outcrops near the river for 
another mile or two, and then return by the face of 
the hills to see some openings from which 100 tons 
of coal had been taken, and transported to the coast, 
during the lifetime of the late proprietor. Sufiicient, 
however, had been seen to prove beyond doubt that 

* The cultivation of the sugar-cane might be made very remunera- 
tive, as it grows in many places, without irrigation, twelve feet high, and 
with a diameter of two inches. The valley of Naricual, the property 
(with the coal mines) of Seiiora Monagas, is well adapted for cane, and 
the hilly slopes rising from it, belonging to the same owner, afford an 
excellent opportunity for the establishment of coflfee plantations. 
When a railway enters the district the lands will be of great value. 



100 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. v. 

the coal district was one worthy of a thorough explo- 
ration. 

Next morninor we started from the suj^ar-mill ou 
our return journey to the city of Barcelona, choosing 
as our route the one best suited for a railroad, the 
only cheap practical manner of transj^orting the coal 
to the coast. The rivers Neveri and Naricual can 
never be made useful for the large traffic wliich would 
result from working these mines ; the falls on the 
latter, and the scarcity of water in both during cer- 
tain seasons of the year, are good grounds on which 
to base such an assumption. The altitude of the 
Neveri near the mines is from 1 50 to 200 feet above 
the level of the sea, and the distance to the coast 
twenty miles. The ground the whole way appears 
almost level, presenting no natural difficulties for the 
economical construction of a railway, with the excep- 
tion of a rise and fall of about fifty feet through the 
picturesque Pass of La Angostura, a natural rift in 
the mountain, separating the valleys of the Naricual 
and Neveri. Its high, steep, and almost precipitous 
sides are covered with dense vegetation, the trees in 
some places embracing across the chasm. A bridge 
over the Neveri at Tavera would be needed — the only 
one on the route — which mis^ht be constructed of 
wood from the neio^hbourins^ forests. The lands 
bordering the stream from this point down to Bar- 
celona are rich and productive, and, if a line were 
built, would soon be put under cultivation, and 
gradually increase its traffic. A branch, carried from 
a point near to the entrance of the Pass of La Angos- 



Chap, v.] THE HOLY WEEK PROCESSION. 101 

tura to the piiehlo of Araguita, would prove an im- 
portant addition. This town would then become the 
depot for collecting the produce of the magnificent 
valley of Araguita. Facilities of communication 
would transform the district, and convert it into a 
thriving commercial centre. 

We arrived in Barcelona in the evening, and the 
next day made a practical trial at a steam-power 
cotton-ginning establishment of the samples brought 
from " Mundo Nuevo " as compared with " Old World" 
coals. The result was much in favour of the Vene- 
zuelan article, which lasted longer and got up " higher 
steam." The imported article left a cinder, whilst 
the other burnt away to mere ash. Such a result Avas 
hardly to be expected, as the mineral had been taken 
by us from the surface, and appeared to be much 
weathered. 

It was the Holy Week (iSemcma >Scm^a), and Eoman 
Catholicism showed to advantage in the streets. It 
is a -picturesque faith, and there is plenty of scope for 
the artist. Through the city marched the procession 
of the Holy One. Bands of music, playing a weird 
and melancholy air, announced its arrival. Tables, 
draped with black cloth, were borne by invisible 
carriers. On one of these was an image representing 
Jesus bearing the cross, and on others were to be seen 
various of the disciples. The first was of the greatest 
importance, and a large amount of decorative in- 
genuity had been expended upon " Nuestro auugo,''' 
as a bystander called it. Each image was surrounded 
by lighted candles, enclosed in glass shades. The 



102 THE LAND OF JWLIVAR. [Chai). v. 

general solemnity of the scene was marred by con- 
tinual fear lest some of the images should be over- 
thrown by the jolting, and, falling amongst these 
glasses, get grievously injured, and so bring discredit 
upon " Los Padres Santos " for not better securing 
the safety of the patrons upon whose virtues they live 
and fatten. The holy week is their gala, and they 
provide for the interest of the people both mid- day 
and evening entertainments. After dark the spec- 
tacle moves through the streets, surrounded by a 
guard of torch-bearers, the light of their flaming 
hachas throwing a lurid glare over the eager faces 
lining the streets as the pageant crawds along. 

One of the characters of Barcelona was Jesus Maria 
Jos^ Juan Dios Domingo Perez,* a negro of an order 
now almost indigenous. Like the king's jester of old, 
he was a privileged person, and could say and do 
many things that would have been greatly resented 
from any of his compeers. Nondescript creatures of 
this stamp exist in most other towns of the Republic. 
They hold almost an official position, and by mingled 
wit and stupidity contribute to the amusement of 
their neighbours. Juan had been unnoticed among 
the coloured crowd until he had passed the prime of 
life. Some men, we are told, attain distinction, but 
Juan literally fell into fame. To most men a fall is a 
misfortune, but it formed his stock-in-trade, and, like 
a judicious merchant, he throve and grew fat upon it I 
Whilst engaged one day in repairing the church roof, 
he made a faux pas, and came down to the ground 

* Jesus Mary Joseph John God Sunday Smith ! 



Chap, v.] DISCOVERY OF A NEW HARBOUR. 103 

tlie nearest way. Had he fallen upon Mi^feet^ instant 
death must have been his doom, but, fortunately for 
him, he fell upon his head, and it sustained no injury. 
It proved, notwithstanding, a misfortune for the town. 
Juan had been previously a taciturn, hard-working 
nigger, but the shaking loosened his tongue, and liis 
habits likewise ! 

The present port of Barcelona is far from possessing 
the advantages necessary for a good coaling station. 
I determined, therefore, in the few days left of my 
stay, to make an examination of the coast, and see if 
a fitter place could be found. On horseback, we 
started for Posuelos, where a boat was obtained, 
manned by a lot of sturdy negroes, and the work of 
sounding commenced. We examined over six miles 
of the coast, and at last hit upon a place which 
seemed to be in every way suitable for the establish- 
ment of a really good port. It was sheltered, had 
smooth water, with sufficient depth close along shore ; 
it had good anchorage for a thousand vessels, and was 
situated within four and a half miles of the capital. 
This was on the eastern side of a small peninsula, 
named the Morro de Barcelona, running north and 
south, and united to the mainland by a small isthmus 
about a mile long. 

On our return to Caracas, Senor Kamon Bolet, with 
that prophetic inspiration which poets and artists feel, 
painted a picture of the Port of GitzTnan Blanco (so 
named in compliment to the President) of the future, 
with railways, telegraphs, and all the other appliances 
of modern civilization. This painting, together with 



104 THE [.AND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. v. 



an elahoiute map of the district, executed by the same 
liand, 1 had the pleasure of submitting to the Presi- 
dent and liis ministors. 

This search for a harbour took three days ; each 
morning our boat put into shore at the village of 
Posuelos, where General Monagas had a large fishing 
establishment. Fish abounds in these waters, and 
oysters arc found on the trees ! This is positive truth ; 
as the branches by the side of the sea dip into tlie 
water, they are grasped by the ostras in a film and 
friendly fashion. If any are wanted, it is only neces- 
sary to raise a branch out of the water and gather the 
fruit ! The oyster is of a small species, but exceed- 
ingly good and wholesome. 

Whilst at Posuelos we gave an entertainment to the 
work-people of the village. It was appreciated ; the 
talents for mimicry possessed by General Bolet being 
exerted in a manner which called for their enthusi- 
astic admiration. The attitudes and movements he 
displayed with an extemporised fiddle proved a great 
success, and also his imitations of the guaraguata, a 
peculiar species of Indian music. This attempt at 
a little amusement was only a small return for the 
hospitality and kindness we met with wherever 
we went. 

Having completed the " coast survey," we returned 
to the capital, and there awaited the arrival of our old 
friend, the "Dudley Buck," from Trinidad, due on 
the 1 2th of April. 

Soon after my departure Barcelona fell into the 
hands of the Blues. The city was quite unprepared 



Chap, v.] MY SERVANT SHOT. 105 

for a siege, and could not offer any effectual resist- 
ance to the enemy. When the place was retaken by 
the Government troops some lives were lost : amongst 
those who fell was a fine young lad who had been my 
servant during my sojourn. He was shot whilst 
wearing a suit of cast-off clothes I had given to him ; 
the garments, I hope, did not identify him with the 
class to which by birth he did not belong, as it would 
have made him a target for the enemy, poor boy ! 
but — " las balas no conocen a nadie !" 



CHAPTER VI. 

RESIDENCE IN CARACAS. 

" Their amis, their arts, their manners, I disclose, 
And how they war, and whence the people rose," 

— DliYDEN. 

The day after my return to Caracas from Nueva Bar- 
celona I was presented by the Minister of Public 
Works, Dr. M. J. Sanavria, to the President of the 
Republic, General Antonio Guzman Blanco, and had 
about an hour of conversation with him. 

The President was a man of commanding presence 
and very attractive manners, uniting the dignity of 
the soldier with the suavity of the courtier. His face, 
to a physiognomist, indicated resolution of character, 
and fearless determination to carry to a successful 
end every undertaking in which he had embarked, 
and his long political and military career abundantly 
proved that he possessed these qualities in no common 
degree. His finely-marked and regular features give 
him the appearance of one born to rule, w^hilst his 
natural frankness caused him to be everywhere popu- 
lar, and secured to his government the goodwill of 
the people. The President's travels in various parts 
of Europe, and especially his residence in Eugland, 
France, and the United States, had ajQforded him op- 
portunities of examining and becoming acquainted 



Chap, vi.] ANTONIO GLZMAN BLANCO. 107 



with the latest results of civilization; and, to a person of 
his naturally acute perceptions, it must have shown the 




ANTONIO GUEMAN BLANCO. PRKSlDtNT OF THB EEPLULIC. 

advantage, nay, the absolute necessity, of stable govern- 
ment for the development of a country's resources. 

He appeared to be most anxious to see the great 
potential riches of Venezuela unfolded, and was 
always willing, as he said, to give patient attention 
to any plans having that object in view, whether they 
proceeded from a foreigner or from one of his own 
people.* His conversation showed that he fully 

* " If any kind fairy were to ofl'er me the sovereignty of any part of 
the world out of Europe, with power to rule it as I chose, my choice 
would certainly fall on Venezuela. I am fully convinced it only wants 
a government strong and stable enough to ensure the necessary ^jrotection 



108 Tim LAND OF BOUVAR. [Chap. vi. 

appreciated the gravity and extent of the work lie had 
undertaken, for all knew of his laudable endeavour to 
restore peace and })ublic security to this long-dis- 
tracted country. It was, indeed, a task enough to 
appal even the bravest heart, as the ravages of a civil 
war of twenty -five years' duration must, in the very 
nature of things, have produced a demoralisation of 
political sentiment, and to restore order to this chaos 
promised no bed of roses, but was indeed a Herculean 
enterprise, requiring the spirit of a Cromwell. This 
being my first reception, it was impossible during it 
to enter into details respecting plans that had already 
occurred to me, but the President very kindly pro- 
mised an audience whenever desired, and at the ter- 
mination of the interview I was impressed with a very 
favourable opinion of his character, and a conviction 
that, in the history of his country, his name would 
occupy a high position, not only as a good soldier, 
but as a liberal and wise patron of the arts of peace. 

Undoubted proofs have already been given that the 
President has for his object the welfare of the Repub- 
lic, and under his firm guidance she has ftiirly entered 
upon the path of progress. The development of the 
vast natural resources of the land, by means of rail- 

io capital and property to render it one of the most flourishing countries 
in the world. I look back upon the few weeks I spent there as amongst 
the most enjoyable I ever passed ; and if ever any opportunity was to 
offer of revisiting that delicious country, I should do so with pleasure. 
Any traveller, wishing to judge for himself, has only to go by the West 
Indies steamer to St. Thomas, where he meets the sailing packet for La 
Guayra, which he reaches in four or five days, and with a few letters of 
introduction, or even without any, hospitality will meet him on all 
hands, and he will never feel a moment hang heavy on his hands." — 
" Bamblcs and Scrambles in North and South America," by Edward 
Sullivan. London : 1852. 



Chap, vi.] YELLOW-FEVER. 109 

ways, roads, telegrajDhs, and immigration, is a leading 
part of the programme of his administration. Many 
important works have already been commenced,* and 
hopes are entertained that Caracas wall soon be as 
noted for the beauty and magnificence of- its public 
buildings as it now is for the everlasting spring of 
its climate, and the loveliness of the scenery amidst 
which it stands. 
The poet's boast — 

" Through burning climes I passed unhurt, 
And breathed a tainted air " — 

did not apply to my case, for, on the second day after 
returning from Barcelona a severe attack of fever pro- 
strated me. Sleeping in the " spiced Indian air by 
night " sounds pleasant and poetical, but the luxury 
may be purchased at too high a price. '■'' No vale la 
pena.'' It was a bad phase of yellow-fever in the first 
stage. If this was the first stage, our pity is needed 
for those poor unfortunates who continue the journey 
into the second and third. The origin of my illness 
was partly due to exjiosure, and partly to drinking 
the water of the place without anything to correct its 
nastiness. The advice to do at " Rome as the Romans 
do " is good, but must not be taken too literally, and 
certainly no English traveller should fall into the mode 
of sleeping in hammocks, in open corridors, as is the 
custom of Barcelona. To the unremitting attention 
of Dr. Fredensburg, a Dane, who practises in Caracas, 
I owe my rescue from the fangs of this dreadful 

* See Appendix P., List ol" Public Works of Improvement undertaken 
\>y the Government. 



110 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. 



disease, which has killed so many of my countrymen 
in these tropical regions.* My gratitude is also due 
to Captain Henry Todd of the Venezuelan navy, and 
to Senor Pedro Bonfante, who w^atched by my bed- 
side almost night and day, and cared for me with all 
the tenderness of a nurse. Fifteen days of imprison- 
ment reduced me greatly, and it was some weeks 
before a thorough restoration of my ordinary vigorous 
health took place. 

The yellow-fever in Venezuela is, however, not so 
deadly as in some other parts of South America. In 
Brazil, for example, a man may be quite well, fever- 
stricken, and buried, within three days, but here the 
disease takes a more lingering course. 

The good folks of Barcelona should do something 
to lessen the miasmas arising from the low, damp, 
and undrained lands surrounding their town. The 
unhealthiness of districts near marsh lands is pro- 
duced, no doubt, by the decaying vegetation giving off 
a fever-breeding miasma. It has been suggested that 
the cultivation of the sun-flower {Helianthus annuus) 
would, to a certain extent, neutralise these evils. 

* A specific is said to have been discovered for yellow-fever. The 
Vice-Consul of Her Britannic Majesty at the city of Bolivar writes to 
the Consul-General at Car.lcas : — " An old woman, named Mariquita 
Orfile, has discovered an efficacious remedy for the yellow-fever and 
black vomit, which has completely cured several ])ersons after the 
medical men had declared they could only live for a few hours. This 
remedy is the juice of the leaves of the vervain plant ( Verbena officinalis), 
which is obtained by bruising, and is taken in small doses three times 
a day. Injections of the same juice are also administered every two 
hours, until the intestines are completeh- relieved of their contents. All 
the medical men here have adopted the use of the remedy, and conse- 
quently very few, if any, persons now die of these terrible diseases re- 
ferred to. Tlie leaves of the female plant only are used." 



Chap, vi.] ANNIVERSARY OF THE REVOLUTION 111 

When grown in numbers, it absorbs the exhalations 
from the marshes, and turns to good account that 
which is so destructive to mankind. The girasole is 
worth cultivating on its own account. The seeds 
make good cattle-food, and yield a useful oil ; the 
flowers contain honey ; the leaves are fodder ; the 
stems can be used for fuel, and contain a good deal of 
extractable potash.* 

The anniversary of the revolution, which hod raised 
the liberal party to power, was celebrated by a grand 
Jiesta on the 26th of April; the city was gaily deco- 
rated wdth flags and flowers, and everywhere the eye 
rested upon portraits of the President. Crowds of 
people lined the streets ; the enthusiasm w^as uni- 
versal, and was not marred by drunkenness or dis- 
order. In some parts of the town there were sham 
battles, mimic encounters, wherein the actors, wdtli 
blue and yellow banners, represented in humane 
fashion the deadly struggle of the two political 
parties. The night follo^ved beautifully clear ; the 
moon shone pale and calm above all the stir, and the 
thousand lesser luminaries invented by humanity. 
Lights sparkled in every quarter, and the humblest 
houses hung out their tiny lamps to contribute to the 
general brilliance. Discharges of fireworks — the 
safety-valve of the people of Venezuela when sur- 
charged with political or patriotic emotion — took 
place almost incessantly throughout the evening ; the 
towering heights of the sierras of the coast range 

* M. Martin communicated a paper on this subject to tlie Societ6 de 
Tlierapeutique, which is noticed in La Opinion JS^acional, No. 837. 



112 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. vi. 

forming a magnificent background for these pyro- 
teclmic displays. 

The 27th opened witli a grand salvo of artillery, and 
soon after mid-day the people were in full march 
towards the plain of the Estado Zamora, where a 
" banquete popular " was to be celebrated. The pro- 
cession was long and imposing. For those fatigued 
with the hot sun, the charmino; kiosks of Senor Tovar 
Galindo, with their pleasantly cool grottos and cas- 
cades, afforded an agreeable retreat.* At two in the 
afternoon came the President. The music, the din of 
artillery, and the hearty cheers of the multitude 
might well have made him proud, but he received 
the ovation with modest acknowledgments. In a 
summer-house prepared for the occasion, a "medal of 
honour " was presented to him by the " Concejo Ad- 
ministrador de Caracas." To the address he made a 
suitable reply, and the party returned to the plain, 
where bonfires had been lighted, and over which were 
huge oxen, suspended on poles, roasting for the popu- 
lace. This came asada having been parted into ill- 
shapen lumpish masses, was then distributed to the 
various groups, whereupon each individual member 
composing the same cut off his slice, and ate it with 
mucho gusto. This feast, not a la fourchette, but d la 
main, was an offering at once to Hunger and Patriot- 
ism. After a speech from General Aristeguieta, the 
vast concourse turned towards the city, forming a 
triumphal procession, at the head of which were the 

* A chemical works on a small scale, for the manufacture of sulphuric 
acid and soap, has been erected by Seiior Tovar on the same property. 



Chap, vi.] SOCIAL FESTIVITIES. 113 

members of the Government and some of the leading 
chiefs of the army, who had aided in the taking of Cara- 
cas the year before, — amongst them Matias Salazar ! 

The city was again illuminated, and at nine o'clock 
began the grand ball, offered to the head of the nation 
by his ministers and generalissimos. The guests were 
received by the wives of the former, and it must 
have been a source of gratification to Senora Carlota 
Blanco de Guzman to welcome her favourite son as chief 
magistrate of the republic. The ball-room was tastefully 
decorated with choice specimens of the flora of Caracas, 
culled from neighbouring gardens. The ladies were 
dressed to perfection. French dressmakers of known 
ability were not uncommon in Card,cas, and the natural 
good taste of the fair sex of the metropolis, prevented 
these worthies going to extremes in the decoration of 
their patronesses. 

It was the custom in the capital for the leading 
citizens to have nights set apart for the reception of 
their friends, discarding the necessity of special invita- 
tions. These " at homes " were often very attractive, 
the absence of strict formality adding to the enjoy- 
ment ; and whilst the padres defamilias were indulg- 
ing in " guinea point whist " in a room apart, youth 
was deriving less costly and more innocent pleasure in 
the grand sola devoted to dancing, music, and flirta- 
tion. 

The Danish consul-general Mr. Guillermo Stiirup, 
the Brazilian consul Mr. John Kohl, and my friend 
Leseur, had each his special night ; whilst La Senora 
Elena Echanagucia dc Hahn, at her charming casa de 

VOL. I. H 



114 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. vi. 

cam'po (country-house) — rightly named ^l Paraiso 
(Paradise) — entertained her visitors, amongst whom 
Avere many foreigners, with all that graceful affability 
for which she was so famous. One important qualifica- 
tion for the entertainment of her mixed company the 
charming hostess possessed in a high degree, being 
able to converse fluently with the guests in their 
native language, Avhether they came from England, 
France, Germany, Spain, or Holland. Mr. Hahn was 
in many ways a notable man ; his garden proved him 
to be a thorough student of botany, he was possessed 
of great natural intelligence, indefatigably active, and 
amongst the many foreigners who resided in Vene- 
zuela, he was one of the very few who took a real 
interest in the prosperity of the country. It will be 
easily understood, then, that at this pleasant spot the 
visitor was always sure of meeting with good com- 
pany, and he might either listen to the graceful 
badinage of the belles of Caracas, or join in the graver 
conversations of politicians and warriors respecting 
the political complications of the hour. 

Sometimes these friendly reunions had to yield 
precedence to more elaborate festivities. Calling one 
night at the Kohls' reception, I found them preparing 
to set out for a grand ball, given by Senora Santos 
Urbaneja, mother of the Minister of the Interior, 
whither they spirited me also. This was intended to 
be the first of a series, and a curious custom was here 
in vogue. After the last dance, Senora Margarita 
Urbaneja, a member of the family of the hostess, 
carried a wreath of evergreens and flowers, which she 



Chap, vi.] CLUBS AND BALLS. 115 

placed over the shoulders of Dr. Jacinto Gutierrez, 
the Minister of Finance, thus indicating that the next 
entertainment in the series was to be given by his 
excellency. Unfortunately, the breaking out of the 
Revolution robbed us of these, as well as many other 
pleasant parties then upon the tapis. 

Amongst the institutions with which I made an 
early acquaintance was the Cliih Union. Many of 
the members were foreigners like myself, to whom 
the easy club-house made often an agreeable asylum. 
The Venezuelans are an eminently gregarious people, 
and have the same capacity for conviviality which 
Britons possess, without the disadvantage of that 
solemn frigidity we think it necessary to keep up. 
Nevertheless, an Euglishman thawed down is as com- 
panionable as — a Venezuelan ! 

There was also the " Circulo de A^nigos," an asso- 
ciation composed of the youthful aristocracy of the 
capital, and excellent dances it gave. The first I 
attended was at the house of General Terrero. It was 
rendered brilliant by the presence of a goodly number 
of notabilities, both of the military and diplomatic 
services, the latter appearing in strong force. These 
political sages had many shining qualities, but it was 
an acknowledged fact that the Senoritas were still 
more sparkling. AVith the laudable object in view of 
prosecuting my linguistic studies, I was naturally 
anxious to hear as much pure Spanish as possible. A 
ball-room is not a bad college, and the fair professors 
not so dull as the most sapient of tutors. 

Caracas is par excellence the place of breakfasts. 



IIG TJIE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. vi. 

For dinner, invitations are sent to people who must 
be asked — for breakfast, only to those whose company 
is desired. Senor Pedro Bonfante gave an almuerzo 
on my account, at which the company numbered not 
more than twenty individuals. The host, who was 
himself a hon vivant, had provided for our comfort in 
a manner which would have driven even a French- 
man to despair, by the elegance and completeness of 
all the arrangements. The spirit of good fellowship 
prevailed ; oratory, song, music, and sentiment, in 
various languages, added intellectual grace to the 
more material pleasures of the table. In the republic, 
breakfasts and dinners partaking of a public cha- 
racter, and even simple gatherings of friends and 
relations, are generally accompanied by speeches and 
improvised poetry, sometimes serious and sometimes 
amusing, but always serving to prevent the occasion 
from becoming a mere matter of gastronomic enjoy- 
ment. 

Although relishing the social life of the capital — 
and who could not ? — and availing myself as liberally 
as possible of the many invitations from too kind 
Venezuelans, whose only object might have been the 
destruction of my constitution, more important matters 
were not neglected. Very soon after my arrival I 
began to collect whatever seemed of interest or value, 
as tending to illustrate the native wealth of the 
country. This collection will be spoken of hereafter. 
At present it is only necessary to say, that even a brief 
residence had strongly impressed me with the enor- 
mous natural resources of the republic, and I was con- 



Chap, vi.] A COTTON-MILL. 117 

vinced that, if the foreign debt were put upon a 
satisfactory footing, and the raikoads and other public 
works so much needed were constructed, the result 
would be a great increase in its trade and prosperity. 
It appeared to me that these two questions might 
most effectually be solved in combination. If the 
resources of the republic were adequately opened up, 
the reduction, and even the extinction, of the national 
debt, would be an easy matter. Early in May, in 
a private audience with the President, I entered 
freely with him into consideration of various financial, 
practical, and social schemes which the undeveloped 
riches of Venezuela had suggested to my mind. My 
interest in the prosperity of the country was known, 
as I had already lodged applications with the autho- 
rities for two concessions — one for working the coal- 
mines of Barcelona, and the other for the extraction of 
phosphates from some of the islands of the republic. 

In my peregrinations around Caracas, I came upon 
a specimen of Lancashire industry, the cotton-mill of 
Messrs. Machado Brothers, situated in the Los Adjun- 
tos district, near the head waters of a branch of the 
river Guaire, whose diverted current turned a larire 
overshot water-wheel, which supplied power for the 
spinning and weaving machinery. The consumption 
of raw material was from 15 to 20 cwts. weekly, the 
produce beiug coarse grey calico and lamp-wick. 
The factory was located amidst very beautiful 
scenery, near an old settlement in a pleasant valley, 
surrounded by picturesque hills. The proprietors 
were not given to politics, and although the manu- 



118 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. vL 

factory skirted the line of military operations, it did 
not suffer greatly during the troublous times of the 
Kevolution. The high moral character and steady 
application to business of the Machados have made 
the concern a success, and it may be quoted as an 
example of industrial well-doing in spite of war. For 



DIEOO BAUTISTA URBANEJA. 



ten miles the road from Cardcas to Los Adjuntos is 
mostly cut on the hill sides, the sugar estates in the 
valley presenting a succession of agreeable views to 
the traveller. 

During my stay in Caracas less outward appear- 
ances of crime and disorder were visible than in any 



Chap. vi.J URBANEJA. 119 

town I ever saw ; and, considering that it was actually 
a time of civil war, the fact is really marvellous, and 
highly creditable to the people. The unruly spirits 
and intransigientes of the place were kept well under 
by the exertions of Dr. Diego Bautista Urban ej a, 
Minister of the Interior and Justice, who, from his 
untiring activity and powers of physical endurance, 
I named " El hombre de hierro " (the man of iron). 
The citv was under his charofe, and some of his reo^u- 
lations appeared stringent, if viewed according to 
English ideas, but, under the circumstances, they 
were justifiable, and produced the desired efi"ect. He 
had taken a prominent part in the political history of 
his country, and throughout his policy had been 
creditable and straightforward. The enemies of one 
of the past governments tell an anecdote of one of his 
predecessors, which, though quite apocryphal, is too 
good to be omitted. They say he, in his annual 
report, congratulated Congress upon the fact that 
there had ouly been seventeen revolutions during the 
year ! 

On one occasion, when returning home from a ball 
in company w^ith Mr. Lisboa, we had to go by one of 
the Cuarteles at which a sentinel was stationed. The 
challenge and countersign having passed between us 
in proper form, we proceeded along the street, but, to 
our astonishment, were immediately commanded to 
the " right about " — " d la espalda ! " To this 
peremptory mandate we demurred, and conversed 
together in EnsjHsh in rather an excited tone. The 
poor illiterate soldier, who had received orders to stop 



120 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. vi. 

all people from going clown that street, on hearing 
the language of England, exclaimed, ''paseM los 
Tngleses " — " the Englishmen may pass ! " I was 
proud at that moment of this tribute to the character 
of our nation, and it was not the only proof of the 
esteem in which the English were held by even the 
lowest part of the population. 

Of the disturbed times, such as Venezuela was then 
experiencing, many curious anecdotes w^ere told. It 
was said that, upon one occasion, an order was issued 
for the arrest of all the persons in the house of Senor 

. Knowinof that something; of the kind was 

intended, Dr. B s, an important employ^ of the 

state, in company with a cabinet minister, called at 
the house, and before the visit was concluded soldiers 
entered with a warrant. They remonstrated against 
being included in the arrest, the minister protesting 
that he was a member of the Government. " I know 
that perfectly Avell," responded the officer of the 
guard, " but I must obey my orders, and if the 
President himself were present, I should arrest him !" 
The fidelity of the soldier entailed upon its victims a 
night's imprisonment, but freedom was, of course, 
given in the morning. 

Revolution does not even respect national suscep- 
tibilities. At the caking of Caracas by the Federals, 
it was necessary, for strategetical purposes, to place 
some troops in a certain street, and the only available 
way to accomplish that object was to make a hole in 
the garden wall belonging to the house of the Ameri- 
can minister, to pass the men through. This w\as 



Chap, vi.] THE ''STARS AND STRIFES" 121 

clone, but the diplomatic functionary himself appeared 
upon the scene, and, placing the " stars and stripes " 
before the opening, forbade entrance, and consequent 
insult to his flag. The general in command, said to 
have been Alcantara of Aragua, gently pushing aside 
with his sword the sacred drapery, ordered the men 
to file through the breach with their heads turned 
aside, so that they could not see it, and advised the 
minister to turn aside also from the harrowing spec- 
tacle ! 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE. 

" Strike — till the last armed foe expires ; 
Strike for your altars and your fires ; 
Strike for the green graves of your sires ; 

God — and your native land I" — F. G. Halleck. 

The history of the War of Independejice is the 
history of the man Simon Bolivak, the liberator of 
five republics from Spanish misrule and oppression.'" 

Bolivar was born in Card,cas, October 28th, 1783, 
where his family was both noble and wealthy. To 
great natural abilities he added culture and a know- 
ledge of the world, acquired by extensive travel. 
After studying law at IMadrid, he spent some time 
on the Continent. Soon after his return to Venezuela 
he lost his wife. This led to a second visit to 
Europe. In 1809 he was in North America, and the 
sight of free institutions successfully at work no 
doubt stimulated his desires to obtain the same bless- 
ings for his fatherland. He became well known 
amongst the patriots of Caracas, and in consequence 
was sent on a special mission to London. The Court 

* " Don Enrique Vilar has called attention to the fact that the name 
of Bolivar is one of those which carries written in it the destiny of its 
owner, for a change of order in the letters gives us this anagram on the 
name of the great Liberator — Omuis Libravo." — La Opinion Nacional, 
No. 1007. 



Chap, vii] 



SIMON BOLIVAR. 



123 



of St. James's having decided upon a neutral policy, 
no doubt consequent on holding the opinion that — 

" Who would be free, themselves 
Must strike the blow," 

Bolivar returned to Venezuela, and fought under 
Miranda against the Spaniards. It was, indeed, 




SIMON BOLIVAR. 



{From a miniature Portrait taken in Bogota, Nueva Granada, August, 1828, in (he 
possession of the Author.) 

owing to young Bolivar's influence that this veteran 
republican, who had wielded his sword in the cause 
of liberty in two worlds, was brought to the country. 
The fortunate arrival of Miranda, and his espousal of 
the cause of the patriotic party, gave a force and 



124 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. vii. 

character to the outbreak, which raised it far above 
the level of a mere insurrectionary movement. 

The Regency of Cadiz now proclaimed the blockade 
of the tierra Jirme, which comprehended the coasts 
of Caracas, Barcelona, and Cumana. As Spain had 
not ships to make this effectual, commissions were 
issued to privateers. About the same time an election 
of deputies for Congress was held, which gave a 
highly favourable result to the revolutionary party, 
and the issue of their deliberations was the Declara- 
tion of Independence of the United States of Vene- 
zuela affirmed on the 5th of July 18 11, and publicly 
declared at Caracas on the 14th of the same month, 
when the tri-colour was unfurled and raised by the 
sons of the unfortunate Espana, who had died for 
his republican principles twelve years before. In 
December of the same year Congress adopted the 
federal form of constitution. 

All matters of dispute were now referred to the 
arbitration of the sword, and in the early part of 
the war it was not favourable to the patriots. 
Miranda took Valencia, and obtained some advantages 
over Monteverde, but this favourable state of affairs 
soon changed, the patriots suffering several defeats ; 
Monteverde retook Valencia, and Miranda was forced 
to capitulate. On the side of the Spaniards the war 
was conducted with great brutality. The royalists 
were triumphant ; Monteverde entered Caracas, and 
all who were thought to have favoured the patriot 
party became objects of suspicion and persecution. 

In the month of August 181 2, Bolivar took refuge 



Chap, vii.] DEFEATS OF THE ROYALISTS. 125 

in the island of Curazao, from whence he was invited 
to Cartagena by the republican president. The rank 
of colonel was assigned to him, and his first exploit 
was to take, with 400 men, the strong fortress of 
Tenerife, on the banks of the river Magdalena. This 
was the beginning of a long series of victories. The 
people of Bogotd repulsed an attack of 3000 Spaniards; 
Bermiidez with 75 men beat five times that number ; 
Piar twice routed La Hoz, who had a much larger 
force ; Bolivar entered Merida, evacuated by the 
enemy ; the isle of Margarita declared for the re- 
public ; Kivas had several victories, in one of which, 
with 500 men, he defeated 1500 royalists under 
Oberto ; and Bolivar conquered and took prisoner at 
the battle of Sabana de los Pegones, the entire force 
of Izquierdo. This brilliant succession of engage- 
ments was crowned by the triumphal entry of Bolivar 
into Caracas on the 7th of August 18 13, where 
he was hailed by the title which has since been 
so gloriously associated with his name — that of 
" Liberator." 

Amongst the prisoners captured by the patriots 
was the ferocious wretch Zuazola, who, it is said, cut 
off the ears of some republican prisoners ; had the 
skin stripped off the soles of their feet, then forced 
the poor creatures to walk over pebbles ; and after- 
wards shot them as he thought their looks were 
contemptuous. Bolivar proposed to exchange this 
monster for Jalon, who was then a prisoner in the 
hands of Monteverde, but the Spaniards were un- 
willing to allow the patriots any belligerent rights. 



126 TBE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. vii. 

and looked upon all their captives as so many rebels 
taken red-handed. In consequence of this refusal 
Zuazola was hanged on the Plaza of Caracas. 

The tide of fortune again turned against the 
patriots. Bolivar was defeated at La Puerta and 
San Mateo. He went to Cartagena, and afterwards 
to Kingston, in Jamaica, where a Spanish assassin 
made an ineffectual attempt upon his life. The war 
was going on with varied success, but chiefly in 
favour of the royalists, whose conduct was marked 
equally by cruelty and bad faith. Thus at Barinas, 
entered by them without opposition, they committed 
the greatest excesses ; at Ocumare del Tuy, they put 
to the sword the unarmed inhabitants who had taken 
refuge in the church ; at Charallave, where they 
were defeated by Kivas, the conqueror said, that the 
sight of the horrors they had left behind made him 
tremble and swear an oath of implacable hatred against 
all Spaniards ; and at Valencia, when the patriots 
capitulated, Boves had the mass said before the two 
armies as a pledge that their lives should be respected, 
and two days later hundreds of them were killed by 
his orders. These bloody proceedings naturally pro- 
voked reprisals, and accordingly this same Boves 
found himself compelled to order the justices to have 
every one shot who had been concerned in the death 
of Spanish prisoners ; at Maturin, after its evacuation 
by Rivas and Bermiidez, Mord,les put all the inhabi- 
tants to the sword ; when Rivas, who had defeated 
the Spanish armies many times, was taken prisoner, 
he was beheaded and quartered ; and lastly, to crowm 



Chap, vii.] EXODUS OF THE PATRIOTS. 127 

these infernal proceedings, Pardo, a brigadier, sent 
word to his commanding officer that the wife of 
Arismendi (a brave republican general), who was 
then in his power, was about to give a new monster 
to the world, and asked that he might behead her ! 

In December, 1816, Bolivar landed at Margarita, 
organised a government, decreed the abolition of 
slavery, and immediately manumitted his own slaves, 
a point in which he shines far superior to Washington, 
with whom he is sometimes compared. 

The next two years were marked by many advan- 
tages gained over Morillo, who had been sent from 
Spain to quell the insurrection. The heroism of the 
patriots triumphed over every obstacle and disaster ; 
their courage was invincible, and the daring and 
audacity of many of their exploits gained them 
victories which mio^ht seem to belonoc to the reo^ions 
of the impossible. The disasters of 18 14- 16 led to 
an exodus, and a large body of patriots fled from the 
outrages of the Spaniards, and took refuge in the 
llano camp of Paez, who was nominated chief, with 
the rank of general of brigade. The sufierings and 
hardships of this nomadic body, which was at once 
an army and an asylum containing a great mass of 
women and children, were very great. The soldiers, 
without hats or shoes, were clothed in the hides of 
newly-killed beasts ; beef, without salt and without 
bread, was the staple food of all. 

The first object of Paez was to obtain mounts for 
his men, and the wild horses of the district had to be 
broken in for the purpose. In the rainy season. 



128 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. vii. 

heading a band of brave llaneros mounted on white 
horses (so much esteemed for their superior aquatic 
powers), Paez led oj6f a dashing expedition to surprise 
Barinas, and, by hard riding and swimming, he soon 
brought his cavalry close to that place. A small 
detachment was now sent towards Pedraza, when a 
large body of Spanish troops sallied forth to chastise 
it, thereby weakening the force in the city, which fell 
easily into the hands of Paez. Immense quantities of 
stores were found in the place ; and these he trans- 
ported by the same difficult route back to his tents 
in the wilderness. 

The " Gang of Apure," as the Spaniards contemptu- 
ously termed the army of Paez, recovered the province 
of Apure, part of that of Barinas, and Casanare in 
Nueva Granada, for the republicans. The royalists, 
after a victory over Guerrero, met the army of Paez 
on the plains of Mucuritas, when the 4000 veterans 
of old Spain, amongst them 1 700 cavalry, led by the 
valiant La Torre, were totally defeated by iioo 
patriot horsemen. This was done by an audacious 
piece of strategy, as bold as it was successful. Paez 
had only cavalry, and would have had his force 
destroyed if he had marched in the ordinary fashion 
against the enemy. Accordingly, he detached two 
columns with orders to attack the flanks of the 
royalists, and then to retreat as if defeated. The 
Spanish cavalry of La Torre, galloping in hot pursuit, 
was, with the aid of two more columns, surrounded 
and destroyed ; the prairie grass w^as set on fire, and 
when the remainder of the Spaniards escaped from 



Chap, vii.] THE BODY-GUARD OF PAEZ. 129 

this sea of flames, it was only to receive fourteen con- 
secutive charges upon their wearied columns."^' It 
was in this year (1817) that Bolivar in Guayana 
opened communication with Paez. 

In January 1818, the Liberator, at the head of 
2500 disciplined troops, amongst them the British 
Legion, which did such good service in the cause of 
liberty, joined Paez. The total strength of the patriot 
army scattered over the republic at this date was 
estimated at 20,000. 

The leaders determined to cross the Apure and 
attack Morillo at Calabozo, but they were without 
means of transporting their troops across the deep 
broad river. Bolivar, who was walking on the banks 
gazing at the Spanish gunboats in the stream, said, 
" I would give the world to have possession of 
the Spanish flotilla, for without it I can never cross 
the river, and the troops are unable to march." Paez 
volunteered to capture it, and bringing up 300 
llaneros who served as his body-guard, he marched 
them to the water's edge, and cried, " We must have 
these fleeheras or die ! " adding, " Let those follow 
Tio who please." Tio, or uncle, was the pet name 
given by the faithful followers of Paez to their dash- 
ing leader. Spurring his horse into the river at 

* One of the most meiaorable battles of the War of Independence 
was that of San Felix, fought on the nth April 1817, when La Torre 
was again defeated — this time by General Piar. By this defeat the 
province of Guayana was lost to the royalists, and the quantity of arms, 
ammunition and provisions, and the number of liorses and cattle, which 
fell into the hands of the patriots were immense. The subsequent exe- 
cution of Piar by order of Bolivar has led to much controversy (see 
Appendix Q., 221 c). 

VOL. I. I 



130 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. vii. 

the head of his brave llaneros, who to a man dashed 
in after him, he swam to the fleet ; then leaping from 
the backs of their horses into the gunboats, Paez and 
his cavalry captured every one of them. 

The patriots forced Morillo to retire to Caracas ; 
Paez returned to the Apure ; but Bolivar remained 
with the bulk of the army, which was afterwards 
defeated by Morillo at La Puerta. 

In January iSrg, Bolivar joined Paez at San Juan 
de Payara, when their forces united were not more 
than 4000. Paez was left in command whilst Bolivar 
attended the Congress at Angostura, where he was 
elected president. An attack was made upon the 
patriots by the royalists under Morillo and La Torre, 
and the tactics of Paez were such as to lead his 
enemies a long and fruitless march through the 
wilderness. Paez, never losing sight of the royalists, 
retreated, harassing his opponents by stampeding bands 
of wild horses against them in the night, and changing 
his positions in a manner to baffle and perplex the 
Spaniards unused to llanero tactics. 

In April, Morillo again resumed the offensive. He 
was on the left bank of the Arauca, and Bolivar and 
Paez were on the right. In order to draw out the 
Spaniards, the llanero chief crossed the river with 
150 horsemen, whom he marched in three small 
columns against the enemy. Morillo opened fire, and 
his cavalry charged upon the slender force of Paez 
which retreated in order. All the Spanish cavalry 
were now detached in pursuit of the heroic band, but 
as soon as they had left the main body of their army. 



Chap, vii.] INDEPENDENCE OF COLOMBIA. 131 

and were in some slight disorder from the impetuosity 
of their charge, the Uauero changed his procedure, and 
attacked them in front and flank with small bands of 
twenty. This was done so suddenly and with such 
vigour that the Spanish cavalry, taken entirely by 
surprise and unable to reform their lines, were driven 
back with great slaughter. Their rout threw the 
infantry into confusion, and the whole army took 
refuge in the woods. This is certainly one of the 
most remarkable exploits ever performed by any 
military hero, and Venezuela may well be grateful to 
the bold warriors of the Quesaras del Medio. 

Bolivar now set out on the expedition which gave 
freedom to Nueva Granada, whilst Paez guarded the 
Apure. At the close of this year Venezuela and Nueva 
Granada became united under one government. 

Not till 1820 did Morillo see the utter hopelessness 
of the task of subjugating the young republic by 
military measures ; he therefore proposed an armistice, 
and suggested to the government of Angostura and 
the chiefs of the army that they should submit to 
Spain under a constitutional form of government. 
This pacific proposal came ten years too late. The 
blood which had been shed, and the misery which had 
been endured were too great to be thrown fruitlessly 
away. Nor had the patriots any reason to place 
much trust in the fair promises of Spain. The only 
basis on which they would treat was that the inde- 
pendence of Colombia should be recognised. An 
armistice was, however, ultimately concluded, and 
the war regularised. 



132 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. vii. 

In 182 1 was fought the decisive battle of Carabobo, 
which gave Venezuela to the patriots. The plain 
could only be approached by the defile of Buena 
Vista, whose outlet was commanded by the Spanish 
artillery, backed by strong masses of infantry in two 
lines of battle, and supported on their flanks by 
strong bodies of cavalry. The Spaniards had 9000 
men, whilst Bolivar had only 6000. The royalist 
position was absolutely impregnable. It was deter- 
mined, therefore, that Paez should go by a path 
dangerous and little known, and attempt to turn the 
enemy's right. This path winds from the road to 
San Carlos over a wooded hill and into a ravine 
so full of briars that the men had to pass singly 
through it. The royalists discovered the movement 
of Paez as his men entered the ravine, and four of 
their best battalions were at once directed against 
him. Unable to withstand this terrific charge the 
soldiers of Apure gave way, and it was only by the 
gallantry and coolness of the men of the British Legion 
that the fortunes of the day were ultimately turned in 
favour of the patriots. Filing oflf under a tremendous 
fire, they formed in battle-array, and, kneeling down, 
withstood every effort to dislodge them. Not an 
inch did they yield, although nearly all their officers 
were killed or wounded, and their desperate resistance 
gave time for the battalion of Apure to reform. 
Afterwards Bolivar called the British Legion "the 
saviours of his country ! " Reinforcements under 
General Heras and the famous body-guard of Paez 
now came on the scene of action ; the royalists, 



Chap, vii.] THE BATTLE OF CARABOBO. 133 

attacked front and rear, were totally routed and 
pursued to Valencia, whence, with the shattered 
fragments of his host, La Torre withdrew to Puerto- 
Cabello, which was carried by assault in November 
of the same year. 

On the field of Carabobo the power of Spain was 
shattered nevermore to be repaired. That glorious 
victory gave the Venezuelans the liberty for which, 
during long years, they had sufi'ered and bled. To an 
Englishman it is a source of gratification to think 
that the valour and endurance of his countrymen 
helped to buy the precious dower of Freedom to this 
people, in whom all the force and oppression of Spain 
had been unable to extinguish those patriotic virtues 
which form the basis of all that is good in free nations. 

The next year the Spaniards were completely 
driven out of the country ; and Bolivar was sum- 
moned to assume the Dictatorship of Peru, from 
which, after two years' hard struggle, he drove the 
royalist forces. His popularity was now immense. 
In a tour through the southern provinces of Peru, he 
was hailed with every expression of delight and 
gratitude. The name of the country was changed iu 
his honour to Bolivia. A million of dollars was voted 
to him, and here, again, he showed how truly great he 
was, for instead of devoting the money to personal 
objects or aggrandisement, he purchased with it the 
liberty of a thousand slaves.''' 

• Feelingly could Bolivar say : — " Ya no hai en Colomhia castas / 
No hai sangre menos noble que otra sangre ! Toda fae de heroes que al 
correr mezclose sobre las campos de batalla, y toda sera igual para obtener 
hisjustas recompensas del valor, del honor, del talento, la inteligenciay la 
virtud."' 



134 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. vii. 

The conduct of Paez, who was military chief of 
Venezuela, did not give universal satisfaction. Senor 
A. L. Guzman was outlawed in November 1824, for 
having protested in El Constitucional against a decree 
in which Paez had ordered compulsory military service. 
A later attempt of Paez in 1826 led to his suspension 
from office. He was called upon to explain his 
conduct to the Senate of Colombia. This order led 
to a violent commotion in Valencia, the authorities of 
the town all declaring in favour of Paez, who refused 
to comply with the orders of the Congress, and was 
newly nominated Civil and Military Chief in April 
1826. One only of the municipality remained faith- 
ful to the Liberator. The authorities of Caracas took 
the side of Paez. The return of Bolivar to Caracas 
ended these disaffections, and so far from resenting 
the actions of Paez, he loaded him with honours and 
distinctions. 

In 1827, for the fourth time, Bolivar resigned his 
office of president, but the resignation was not 
accepted by the Congress. The partisans of Paez in 
Venezuela were not idle, and when, on the 26th of 
November 1829, a meeting of notables was held in 
Caracas, they pronounced for separation from Col- 
ombia^ disavowed the authority of Bolivar, * and 
nominated Paez Supreme Chief. Three voices only 
in this meeting were heard to defend the absent hero 
who had sacrificed his all to procure them freedom 
from the oppressive power of Spain, and one of these 
was the voice of Senor A. L. Guzman. General Paez 
accepted this pronunciamento, but in the very 



Chap, vii.] BOLIVAR'S ENEMIES. 135 

moment of treason against tlie Liberator, protested 
that he would not rule except in the name of Bolivar 
— '' Sino d nomhre de Bolivar" 

The Congress of Colombia united in June 1830, 
and Bolivar placed his resignation in its hands, 
abdicating his office with words of simple eloquence 
in which he laments that whilst all other citizens are 
free from suspicion, he alone should be thought 
capable of aspiring to tyranny : " If a man were 
necessary to sustain a state, that state could not 
exist. Hear my prayer and save my glories, which 
are those of Colombia." 

The reply of the Congress was to charge the 
Liberator with the task of maintaining the integrity 
of the republic. AVhen Bolivar took his place at the 
head of the army, General Marino announced it as a 
calamity for Venezuela, whilst Paez denounced him 
as a traitor, and called upon the people to repulse 
him ! A commission was, however, sent to arrange 
the difficulties in an amicable manner, and it was 
determined to allow the various sections of the 
republic to organise themselves in whatever form 
they wished, provided that no general-in-chief or 
other person who had held high office since the 
declaration of independence was appointed president. 
In consequence, perhaps, of this understanding, 
General Paez continued as Chief of Venezuela ! 

Bolivar, now worn out by the ingratitude of some 
of his countrymen, and stung to the heart by the 
calumnies with which his character was assailed, 
determined to give up the useless struggle against 



136 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. vii. 

those who slandered his love of liberty and patriotic 
devotion. He had been accused of an ambition for 
power, and the possession of the most selfish designs. 
Even a wild notion of a monarchy (entertained by a 
handful of persons and which he had strenuously 
repressed) had been used against him. On the most 
frivolous pretexts he was treated with the basest 
ingratitude by the very people for whom he had 
sacrificed his large private fortune, and spent twenty 
years in constant warfare to gain their liberation. 

He retired in failing health to Santa Marta, where 
he died on the 17th of December 1830 — "broken- 
hearted ! " Shortly before his death he dictated an 
address to the Colombian people, marked by grave 
and earnest eloquence, and the oratory of weighty 
thoughts. 

The following verses were written by my father 
the year following that of the death of Bolivar : — 

" And he has gone from earth, the mighty man 
Whose potent arm was freedom's own, 
Who found his country prostrate — prone 
Beneath the hoof of tyranny, and wan 
With suffering ; but in her eye there shone 
A gleam of vengeance which he oft would scan, 
A silent menace which told, that, alone 
Her single nervous arm would make her tyrants groan. 

" He raised the war-cry where the Andes vast 
Re-echoed to the sound, and, on the plain 
Where laves the Orinoco in the main, 
Colombia's children roused, as doth the blast : 
The ocean's billows echoed the cry again : 
He led them to the battle, and though cast 
In many a combat, led them not in vain. 
For soon each foe had fled or perished 'mong the slain. 



Chap, vii.] THE DEATH OF BOLIVAR. 137 

" What though his country owned not all his worth, 
Nor grateful felt to him, the good — the brave, 
From all her foes who did that country save ! 
A thousand generations yet, the birth 
Of Time's old age, shall come from where the wave 
On Cape Horn lashes, to the farthest north, 
Where California's land-girt waters lave. 
In silent grief to mourn as o'er their father's grave. 

" Go to, ye despots ! weep and howl, for ye 
Have reached your time appointed. Lo ! 
Freedom in every land hath strung her bow, 
The sun of liberty is up, and see ! 
The misty clouds that ye around him throw 
Are melting into air, man will be free : 
Blow ye, the trumpet, loudly freeman blow, 
The Jubilee begins of joy to all below." 

P. Spence. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

MODERN HISTORY — CIVIL WAR. 

" Ez for war, I call it murder, — 

There you hev it plain an' fiat ; 
I don't want to go no furder 

Than my Testyment fer that ; 
God hez said so plump an' fairly 

It's ez long ez it is broad, 
An' you've gut to git up airly 

Ef you want to take in God." — Biglow Papers. 

In entering upon the more recent political com- 
plications of Venezuela, a foreigner has a difficult 
task before him, there being no unbiassed source from 
which he can derive the facts for his narrative. 

In all countries, under whatever name they may 
be known, there are two great political parties ; the 
conservatives and the reformers. These represent the 
action and reaction of popular sentiment. The one 
party is satisfied with the present state, looks back 
with longing eyes to some imaginary good old times, 
and is often endowed, either by law or custom, with 
exceptional privileges which it is naturally unwilling 
to sacrifice. This body, when induced to make 
changes, does so with the greatest circumspection, 
moving slowly and trying to consolidate between 
each step. The tendency of modern thought is cer- 
tainly in the direction of progress. The most vener- 



Chap, viii.] VENEZUELAN POLITICAL PARTIES. 139 

able institutions are attacked when they have ceased 
to fulfil the functions for which they were created. 
Euined castles may be very picturesque objects, but 
they are badly adapted for habitations ; and however 
beautiful they may be, nations cannot afford to live in 
ruins. 

Venezuela is no exception to the general rule ; 
there is the Oligarqida, which desires to let things 
alone, and the Liberal party, which wishes to remould 
them in accordance with the spirit of the age. The 
Spanish misgovernment left a legacy of bitterness 
and anarchy that has been the cause of much misery. 
Political passion runs very high in the country, and 
its history for a generation between these two parties 
has been a continual struggle, always more or less 
warlike.* 

The existence of Venezuela in an independent 
capacity is due, in a large measure, to the personal 
ambition of Paez, by whose influence the great 
Liberator was exiled from his fatherland, and the 
republic separated from Colombia. Whatever may 
have been the real wishes of the people, the death of 
Bolivar put an end to all thoughts of re-union ; and 
Paez became its first constitutional president. 

The second president was the learned Dr. Jose 
Maria Vargas, whose election in March 1835 was 
said to have been irregular, and led to the " Revolucion 
de las Reformas." He was deposed and expelled in 
July, but in August recalled to power ! General Paez 

* " History, Avliicli is, indeed, little more than the register of 

the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind."— Gibbon. 



140 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. viii. 

DOW took the field against the " reformistasl^ and a 
civil war ensued, continuing until March 1836, when 
they were completely subjugated, and treated with 
great rigour by order of the Congress, but against 
the desire of Paez, who entreated to be allowed to 
deal with them clemently. In 1836, Dr. Vargas 
resigned the presidency, and after the remainder of 
his term had been occupied by three vice-presidents, 
General Paez, in 1839, became again the legitimate 
head of the nation. 

Now that the grave had closed over Simon Bolivar, 
the passions which had prevented the recognition of 
his greatness died also, and on the 1 7th of December 
1842, the ashes of the immortal Liberator were 
transferred from Santa Marta with every mark of 
public respect and honour, and received a magnificent 
national funeral, in the Temple of San Francisco, in 
Card,cas. 

The fifth president was General Soublette, and the 
sixth General Jose Tadeo Monagas, who was elected 
in 1847. ^ great part of the Venezuelan people 
believe that all the evils that have fallen upon the 
republic since 1846, have had their origin in the 
falsification of votes, said to have taken place during 
the election of Monagas for president. The liberal 
candidate was Antonio Leocadio Guzman ; and it is 
asserted that he had a majority of votes, but that the 
opposite party, to upset his election, adopted an ex- 
pedient, invented in the United States of North 
America, which was known as "stuffing the ballot 
boxes." The electoral colleges decided to allow votes 



Chap, viii.] A.L.GUZMAN. 141 

to be tendered verbally, and the priests, for weeks 
before, are reported by the liberals to have taught 
the Indians and villagers the oligarchal list of candi- 
dates as a school exercise. Guzman was the editor 
of a liberal newspaper, and to make still more certain 
his rejection, he was accused of sedition, and con- 
demned to death ! Monagas, the elected president. 



ANTONIO LF.OCADIO GUZMAN. 



extended a pardon to the opposition candidate, and 
disappointed the party that elevated him to power by 
forming a liberal ministry. Mondgas did not have an 
easy tenure of office, for the opposition of Paez led to 
two years of civil war. Here it may be noted to the 
credit of the liberal party that, at a time when many 



142 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. viii. 

of its opponents were prisoners, it abolished the 
penalty of death for political oflfences. 

To his brother, General Josd Gregorio Mond,gas, 
afterwards president of the republic, was due the 
emancipation of the slaves. The famous law of 
March 24th, 1854, conceded liberty and equal rights 
to all ; but by a strange irony of fortune, he who had 
given the precious boon of freedom to thousands 
died himself incarcerated in a political prison ! 

In 1857, during another presidential term, General 
Jos^ Tadeo Monagas abdicated in consequence of a 
hostile fusion. The bargain between the two sections 
does not appear to have been well kept. The oligarchal 
party was in power, and the liberals found matters 
growing very warm for them ; many, in fact, were 
exiled, amongst others the "liberal editor." Under 
these circumstances a convention met at Valencia, 
and a federal constitution was demanded by the 
liberal members ; but, finally, a modification called 
"Xa Co7istitucion Centro- Federal ''' was adopted. 

At the beginning of 1859 the discontent of the 
liberals had reached a pitch which led to the outbreak 
of the War of the Federation. It was in this struggle 
that the present leader of the liberal party first 
displayed his military skill, and the remainder of 
the story may best be told in connection with his 
biography. 

Antonio Guzman Blanco was born in 1830, and 
descended from a family which had held high ofiice 
in the colonial days. His father, A. L. Guzman, had 
been private secretary to Bolivar. Young Guzman 



Chap, viii.] BIOGRAPHY OF GUZMAN BLANCO. 143 

was intended for the medical profession, and became 
the favourite pupil of Dr. Vargas, though, after 
making considerable progress, he abandoned it for 
the law. He quickly took his degree as doctor of 
jurisprudence, and became enrolled as an advocate. 
He then commenced to travel, and when he had been 
some time in the United States he was nominated to 
a Venezuelan consulship, and afterwards became Sec- 
retary of Legation in AVashington. The fusion of the 
two parties, which led to the abdication, or deposi- 
tion, of Mond,gas in 1858, was quickly succeeded by 
a reactionary ministry, and Guzman Blanco returned 
to the capital, but his presence there was certainly 
not welcome to the oligarchal party ; he was not 
allowed to leave Caracas, having the city for a prison 
— ciudad po7^ carcel. His expatriation soon after 
brouofht him in contact, first in St. Thomas and after- 
wards in Curazao, with General Falcon, then the head 
of " los libe7'ales." 

Falcon landed in Venezuela in July 1859, and 
proclaimed the Federal Kepublic. Many rose to 
support him, and in Caracas, on the ist of August, 
the president, Mond,gas, was arrested ; the next day 
the same troops declared against the Federation, and 
fired upon the people ! So commenced the five years' 
War of the Federation, which has left, even to the 
present day, its black and ruined tracks across the 
face of the country. On the 30th of September was 
fought the battle of Sabana de la Cruz, resulting in 
the fall of Barquisimeto. In this action, so fortunate 
for the liberals, Guzman Blanco made his acquaint- 



144 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. viii. 

ance with war, and showed so much military talent 
and energy that he was induced to leave his civil 
duties and take a comandantes commission. The 
victory of Santa Ines, in December of the same year, 
followed, when many prisoners and the provisions of 
war of the oligarchal army were captured. Guzman 
Blanco and Juan Bautista Garcia Tvere made colonels 
on the field. The attack on San Carlos followed soon 
after, and was a disaster for the federals, who lost 
their general, Zamora, and were forced to retreat. 
Falcon sought aid in Nueva Granada, and left the 
army in the charge of Sotillo, who met the opposing 
force at Cople, and was obliged to fall back from 
actual failure of ammunition. So ended the first 
campaign of the Federation, which abundantly proved 
the bravery of the troops, but not always the wisdom 
of their commanders. 

The year 1862 opened with victories for the 
federals, but their army of the centre was quite 
disorganized. The task of uniting the various armed 
bodies composing it was given to Guzman Blanco ; 
and as Urdaneta had been assassinated in a similar 
attempt, the position was not enviable, except to one 
whose self-reliance was unbounded. Guzman Blanco 
succeeded in accomplishing the work of binding 
together the scattered federalists, and opened his 
campaign by the victory of Quebrada-seca, in Cara- 
bobo, on the 21st of October 1862, when the enemy 
was so completely destroyed that its commander, with 
four companions, were all who escaped from the fatal 
field. The valleys of the Tuy, under the leadership 



Chap, viii.] FALCON'S ADMINISTRATION. U5 

of General Nunez, pronounced for the Federation. 
Other victories followed, and were crowned by the 
grand and decisive combat of the i6th, 17th, and 
1 8th of April, which gave the province of Card,cas to 
the Federals, and led to a treaty between the two 
parties. The peace of Coche was arranged by Senor 
Pedro Jose Rojas, secretary to the Dictator, as Paez 
was sometimes called, and Guzman Blanco, as repre- 
sentative of Falcon, the chief of the revolution. 
Paez, by this treaty, undertook to abdicate thirty 
days later, when an assembly of eighty, nominated in 
equal parts by the chiefs of each party, was to decide 
on a programme for the future. 

This assembly met in Victoria, and nominated 
Falcon president and Guzman Blanco provisional 
vice-president of the Federation. Falcon entered 
Caracas in triumph on July 24, 1863, and Guzman 
Blanco became Minister of Finance and of Foreign 
Eelations. He was also constituted fiscal commis- 
sioner, and in the latter capacity came to Europe to 
negotiate a loan of ^2,000,000. This was a plan the 
government of Falcon inherited from its predecessors, 
as the loan was partly arranged when the fall of Paez 
necessarily upset the business. During Guzman's 
absence he was elected deputy to the constituent 
assembly by four states, and when it met, he was 
unanimously chosen its president, and during 1865 
and 1866 was at the head of Falcon's administration 
as vice-president of the republic. The measures he 
adopted in the capital were of the wisest, and he 
became very popular. His common-sense and busi- 

VOL. I. K 



146 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. viii. 

ness-like ability secured him the confidence and sym- 
pathy of the mercantile portion of the community. 
In 1867 he came again to Europe, with a view of 
entering into negotiations for unifying the various 
obligations of Venezuela. 

Whilst he was in Paris General E6jas raised the 
standard of insurrection in the west, and Falcon was 
obliged to levy an army. To meet this unexpected 
expense, the payment of the interest of the loan of 
1864 was suspended, an act which put an end to 
Guzman Blanco's negotiations, and seriously injured 
the credit of the republic. He spoke so strongly 
against this decree, that his credentials were with- 
drawn by the cabinet, although afterwards restored 
by Falcon. 

Meanwhile, in Caracas the oUgarqvia, which now 
assumed the name of the Blue party (El Partido 
Azul), was not idle, and its activity was increased 
by dissensions in the opposition. A section of the 
liberal party had become greatly disaffected to Mar- 
shal Falcon, Avho abdicated in favour of two revolu- 
tionary chiefs, Bruzual and Urrutia. This led to the 
treaty of Antlmano, by which the partido azid recog- 
nized the new government, but directly afterwards 
proclaimed the presidency of General Jose Tadeo 
Mondgas. Three days' sanguinary combat, at the 
end of July 1868, gave it possession of Caracas. 
Bruzual fell back on La Guayra, and from thence on 
Puerto-Cabello, which was taken by the Blues on the 
14th August. Bruzual received a mortal wound, and 
died in Curazao two days later. It was at this 



Chap, viii.] LYNCH LAW. 147 

juncture that General Guzman Blanco returned from 
Europe. 

It soon became evident that the fusion of parties 
which had placed Mondgas in power was a hollow 
affair. The Government was reactionary, and a 
liberal opposition was formed. In its origin it w^as 
simply the legal propaganda of its opinions, condemn- 
ing war as a barbarism, leading to military dictatorship. 
The liberal clubs looked to the elections as the proper 
method for the expression of the national will, but 
the interference of the Government with the freedom 
of elections drove them to desperation.""' A system 
of lynch law was instituted against the liberals, and 
the official papers chronicled the outrages as popular 
verdicts. This culminated, on the 1 4th August, in an 
attack on the house of Guzman Blanco. The occasion 
selected was that of a grand ball given by the general, 
rumour asserting that the object of this entertainment 
was to bring together the best men of both parties, 
with a view to union on the basis of a common 
patriotism. The guests were insulted, and the life of 
the host threatened, by a furious mob, which was with 
difficulty prevented from sacking the house. The 
Minister of War, and the Governor of the State, were 
both on the scene, but declined to use their power to 
disperse the rioters ! This was at length done by a 

* The notions of liberty of elections held by the dominant party 
may be illustrated by a passage from one of their newspapers : — " La& 
elecciones son libres ; la Conxtitucion los j)rotege ; pero no para colocar a 
los enemigos de la triunfante revolucion. Nosotros permitiremos que se 
incorporen d nuestras filas, pero no que nos ataquen de f rente ! no, y mil 
veces no." 



148 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. viii. 

simple magistrate. Next day a second attack was 
threatened, but Guzman Blanco by this time had 
transferred his family to the house of the American 
minister, and he himself afterwards retired to the 
island of Curazao. A few days later there was an 
emeute in the cuartel San Carlos, and a number of 
soldiers deserted. Two parties sent in pursuit met 
and fired upon each other. This led to a second 
lynch riot, in which the house of Dr. Urrutia was 
attacked. The doctor was then lying upon his death- 
bed, and whilst being removed for safety, died in the 
arms of his rescuers. The liberals, or " los amarillos" 
(Yellows), saw no other hope of regaining their rights 
than that of insurrection, and General Pulido left 
Caracas for the West with a handful of men ! This 
was in September, and in October he defeated 
General Martinez and took the city of Nutrias. 
Barquisimeto fell, after nine days' fighting, in 
January 1870. 

The demand that General Guzman Blanco and his 
friends should be expelled from Curazao led to pre- 
cipitate action on the part of the chief of the revolu- 
tion ; he set sail with five companions, and after a 
dangerous passage, disembarked at Curamichate in 
the night of February 14, 187 1. All along the 
route his forces increased, the people flocking to his 
standard eii masse. After various victories the 
liberals found themselves outside Caracas, where over- 
tures were made for the peaceful capitulation of the 
eity. As the besieged refused to treat with the 
enemy at the gate, the capital was taken by assault. 



Chap, viii.] HEROIC AUDACITY. 149 

after a desperate struggle extending over three days.* 
This was only seventy days from the landing of 
Guzman Blanco on the coast. 

General Colina at the same time asaulted and took 
Carora. In May commenced the campaign against 
Valencia and Puerto-Cabello. The partido aziil took 
refuge in the strong fortress called El Castillo del 
Libertador, well-stored and almost impregnable. This 
fell into the power of the liberals by the intrepidity 
of one man. Previous to the rising of the Yellow 
party, General Venancio Pulgar had made an inde- 
pendent stand, but, owing to treachery, had been 
taken prisoner and incarcerated in the Castillo Liber- 
tador. Here he contrived to gain to his cause 
eighteen soldiers, and to acquaint two of his com- 
panions with his plans. Boldly placing himself at the 
head of this insignificant band of followers, he con- 
quered and took prisoners the entire garrison, soldiers 
and chief, three hundred men in all I The history of 
Venezuela, rich as it is in records of martial bravery, 
has nothing more romantic than this deed of heroic 
audacity. 

Meanwhile, in other parts of the republic, the 
liberals were almost everywhere triumphant ; the only 
exception of importance was the defeat of Salazar at 
La Mora from want of ammunition. Guzman imme- 
diately sent word that Salazar was not to retreat, and 

* When the Yellows entered Cardcas, some of the soldiers went into 
the garden of Ramon Suarez, where they found a collection of caged 
canaries; they opened the prison doors and set the captives free, saying, 
that they were "Amarillos," and none of that colour should remain in 
durance vile. 



160 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. viii. 

on the 2ist September 1870, having been reinforced 
by Generals Kodriguez and Martinez, he gave battle 
again to the Blues — whose forces were now consider- 
ably increased — and routed them completely. The 
same day occurred one of those events which add 
such lurid horrors to war ; and which, for the sake of 
humanity, we could wish to be a legend. In violation 
of a truce, the village of Irapa, in Cumand,, was 
invaded by the forces of the Blues under Ducharme, 
who killed all the garrison, set fire to the hospital 
containing the wounded, and put to the sword all 
who came in their way. It is said that 300 liberals 
were victims of this horrible massacre. 

The congress of plenipotentiaries of the states met 
at Valencia, and nominated Guzman Blanco provi- 
sional president, and by the end of the year the enemy 
was nearly everywhere defeated. 

Such was the position of political parties when I 
first became acquainted with Venezuela. 



CHAPTER IX. 

A DRIVE THROUGH THE VALLEYS OF ARAGUA. 

" Alia el jardin, envidia d los jardines, 
Que riega el claro Aragua, 
Y al que dio la fortuna 
Beber la miel en estendidas eras, 
Corona sin igual de su laguna ! " 

Heraclio M. de la Guardia. 

On the 8th of June I started for the valleys of 
Aragua. Two hours after midnight a vehicle — some- 
thing after the style of an old-fashioned English 
stage-coach but with no seats on the top, and driven 
three horses abreast — went round the town to pick 
up passengers. There were only four of us in all. 

As far as Los Adjuntos, where the western ramifica- 
tion of the valley of Card,cas terminates, the road was 
good, but there the ascent began to be very steep and 
difficult. My travelling companion was General J. 
M. Ortega Martinez, a pleasant acquaintance, who 
had fought in the War of the Federation, and was 
thoroughly familiar with all the political situations 
and embarrassments of the day. The progress I had 
made in the language justified my energetic attempt 
to keep up the conversation ; the experiment suc- 
ceeded, though it is not improbable that the difficulties 



152 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ix. 

of the task may occasionally Lave affected the accu- 
racy of my notes of the excursion. 

The road onward led through mountain gorges 
reported to be exceedingly picturesque, but travelling 
before sunrise in a semi-dormant condition is not 
favourable to the study of the beautiful in landscape 
or in aught else, and the bitter coldness of the morn- 
ing discouraged enthusiasm. 

Eighteen miles from Cardcas we stopped at Los 
Teques, where a rise of 750 feet had been made. 
Here we took our ^^ desayuno" — in other words, 
cofifee and rolls. At all the posadas on our route 
appeared on the table the usual white loaves made 
from imported flour, though the people of the district 
use chiefly bread made from maize, or yuca. Near 
Los Teques are some copper-veins ; specimens were 
brought of ore and metal in its native state for our 
inspection. Still more interesting were two burying- 
grounds of the Cumanagotas. Had time permitted 
of their exploration some archaeological remains would 
probably have been brought to light. Very little 
appears to be known of this extinct tribe, and the 
Los Teques cemeteries have hitherto remained undis- 
turbed by the curious. 

After a change of horses and another start, the 
highest point on the road, 4000 feet above sea-level, 
was soon readied ; it was then clear day-light ; the 
valleys of Aragua stretching away westward and 
bathed in their morning splendours lay before us. 
The construction of the road from the summit down 
to the base was a favourite project of Guzman Blanco 



Chap, ix.] THE VALLEYS OF ARAGUA. 153 

iu the days of Falcon's presidency. The undertaking 
cost only $200,000. The grade was easy, though a 
descent of 2000 feet had to be made before reaching 
the plain. 

At the foot of the range separating the valleys of 
Caracas and Aragua, at a little posada about twelve 
miles' distance from Victoria, we stopped for breakfast. 
It was an excellent one, and the drive had put us in 
possession of appetites sufficiently keen to add gusto 
to the operation of " working our way " through the 
six courses which the respectable and civil posadero 
had placed before us. Leaving the capital behind we 
expected to leave good fare behind also, but were 
agreeably disappointed. The journey being resumed, 
sugar and coffee estates were passed whose names 
would furnish a roll as long as Homer's list of the 
Grecian ships before Troy. In some parts of the 
country scarcity of water was felt ; but all along the 
hillsides enough Indian-corn could be grown to feed 
a world. For miles and miles the road passed between 
lines of the baleful shrub-tree " Pinon" (Jati^opha cur- 
cas), whose flowers of a brilliant red gave a warm tone 
to the landscape. The fruit of this tree is the source 
of Jatropha oil, which so greatly resembles croton as 
sometimes to be taken for it. Other hedfjes were 
formed of the lime (Citrus limonium), very well kept, 
some of them, indeed, for regularity and compactness 
equalling the English hawthorn. Estates in every 
shade of prosperity bordered our tract, but it w^as 
apparent that the "non-politicals" were in the best 
condition. 



154 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ix. 

Victoria, the capital of the state of Aragua (a well- 
built, clean-looking, thriving town, with a population 
of 6500), where we arrived soon after noon, was in 
holiday dress. Maskers were roaming about the 
place in all kinds of grotesque disguises. The object 
of this Fiesta de Corpo Cristo appeared to be to bur- 
lesque the Christian religion, and the end was success- 
fully attained. The mummers looked as though they 
had stolen their costumes from a Christmas panto- 
mime after the season was over. On Corpus Christi 
Day, in each village, altars are erected in the streets, 
and the priests walk in procession from altar to altar 
bearing the Sacred Host, the streets being decorated 
with arches, whilst trellises of palms, bright with 
flowers, appear at every window. We remained at 
Victoria so short a time that I did not present my 
letters to the military chief of the department. General 
Alcd-ntara, sometimes called " El Rey de Aragua," 
a sobriquet he has earned from his vast influence in 
the valley. He Avas one of General Guzman's tried 
and trusted supporters, and figured conspicuously in 
the late revolution. 

A little way out of town stands the well-ordered 
and prosperous sugar estate of La Quebrada, the pro- 
perty of some merchants in Caracas. There were 
about 350 acres under cane, each one yielding two 
tons of sugar per crop, the estate clearing a profit to 
its owners, from the ready sale of sugar and rum pro- 
duced thereon, over ^3000 annually. 

Further west, we passed the fine old estate of 
La Epidemia, the property of a descendant of 



Chap, ix.] RICAURTE THE PATRIOT. 155 

the great Liberator to whom it formerly Ijelouged. 
Here, near the heights, stand the ruins of a house 
which was the scene of one of the many actions of 
desperate heroism marking the War of Independence. 
It was in the year 1814 that Boves, whose exploits 
were signalized by almost superhuman energy, 
attacked Bolivar at San Mateo. The object of this 
was really to draw attention from another movement 
made by him at the same time on the Casa del 
Ingenio, where the artillery and ammunition of the 
Liberator had been placed under the care of Eicaurte. 
Whilst the conflict was raging fiercely on the plains 
both armies could see the royalists descending from 
the hills upon the house which was defended by 
a body apparently too small to ofi'er any serious 
resistance. The loss of the artillery was now im- 
minent. Friend and foe paused to watch the issue, 
and as the little band of patriots retreated before 
the overwhelming avalanche, a shout of victory rose 
from the troops of Boves, but this was soon checked, 
for a tremendous explosion followed. The leader of 
the patriots, Antonio Eicaurte, dismissed his men, 
and after waiting until the house was full of Spanish 
soldiers, he, Samson-like, fired the powder magazine, 
blowing himself and his enemies to instant destruc- 
tion. This self-sacrifice was not without result. Tlie 
royalist loss amounted to 800 men, whilst that of the 
patriots was only 95. It was one of these critical 
moments when to all appearance the fate of a great 
cause hangs in the balance, and when instantaneous 
action decides the fate of nations. 



156 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ix. 

Some troops of Alcantara's army returning from 
Valencia sliowed that if liberty had come, peace still 
lingered on the way. They passed at a brisk trot 
under a broiling sun, and their " undress " appearance 
would have astonished our English soldiers. Kough, 
careless fellows they looked, and very hard was their 
fare and fate, but still the happy and contented 
smiles upon their dark faces showed that they were 
satisfied with their lot, and that any commiseration 
on our part, on their apparently hard fortune, was so 
much sentiment thrown away. 

During the afternoon we drove through the 'pueblo 
of San Mateo. A few scattered houses, a little church, 
groups of lazy-looking Indians, dogs, tamarind-trees 
in flower, and more dogs, made up the scene. 

On the road side further up we saw the famous 
Saman de Guere. Its name — El Saman de Giiere — 
indicates its locality ; the word Saman, written 
Zamang by Humboldt, was the name applied by the 
Indians to the great leguminous trees of the genera 
Mimosa, Desmanthus, and Acacia. The Saman-Acacia 
de Giiere is the most gigantic tree in Venezuela. Its 
appearance from a distance has been compared by the 
great traveller to a round hillock or tumulus covered 
with vegetation. The trunk, only 9 feet in dia- 
meter, is quite out of proportion to the immense 
dome of verdure which it supports. It strikes out 
into branches forming an immense umbrella-shaped 
top nearly 600 feet in circumference. The extreme 
height of the Saman is 60 feet. Orchids of various 
kinds have attached themselves to all parts of the 



Chap, ix.] THE SAM AN DE GUERE TREE. 157 



branches of this stout old king of the plains. The 
Indians have a religious veneration for it, as it has 
not changed to any perceptible extent from the time 
when their fathers were sole lords of the soil. Since 
the days when los conquistador es first opened out this 
magnificent district of Aragua in the early part of the 
sixteenth century, the Sam an de Giiere has remained 
untouched by time and tide. Since this gigantic tree 
sprang from earth a thousand years have passed away. 
"VVe stand in awe before an existence that has out- 
lived so many generations of feeble men who called 
themselves lords of creation ; they have vanished 
like shadows from the earth, but the giant still 
remains, its forces unsubdued, endowed with all the 
grandeur of age and all the freshness of youth. A 
short time before the death of Humboldt a photo- 
graph of the Saman de Gtiere was sent to him. The 
eyes of the old man filled with tears as he viewed it ; 
and he said : " See what I am to-day, whilst the 
beautiful tree is the very same as when I saw it sixty 
years ago ; not one of its great boughs is bent ; it 
looks exactly as it did when I saw it with Bonpland, 
when we were young, strong, and full of happiness, 
and when our fond enthusiasm added beauty to our 
most serious studies." 

Much of the land we passed, for miles on each side 
of the road, was grown over with shrubs and dense 
undergrowth. Though rich and eminently suitable 
for the cultivation of cofiee, cac^o, sugar, cotton, 
tobacco, and the cereals of the country, whole tracts 
lay in a perfect state of abandonment. 



158 



THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. 



[Chap. 



We found very good ^/wVcZ-class fare at o^ fourih- 
rate hotel in Maracay, where we arrived after sunset 
and abode all night. Not more than a league from 
the lake of Valencia, in the centre of the widest part 
of the plain, stands the town with its 4000 inhabi- 
tants. Like most of the settlements belonging to the 
valleys of Aragua, it is so happily situated for the 




MARACiT. AND THE LAKE OF VALE.NCIA. 



fertility of its soil as to take away the greatest 
stimulus to labour. Resembling many other parts 
of Venezuela, its population has sufifered from the 
ravao-es of war. It is inconceivable the amount of 
damage to the national prosperity and well-being 
these unhappy struggles have occasioned. The 
primal curse with which the earth was visited for 



Chap, ix.] THE LAKE OF VALENCIA. 159 

Adam's sin is so little felt here, that we should think 
it a myth, were no portion of the earth's surface 
less barren than that of Ara^ua. Some native cigfars 
were given to us, made from tobacco grown in the 
neighbourhood from " Vuelta-Abajo " seeds, and pre- 
pared by a Cuban. The result would not have dis- 
credited a good Habana brand. 

" Bright and early " the next morning (June 9) we 
left Maracay, and soon after crossed the Tapatupa, 
an insignificant stream, and so entered the state of 
Carabobo. Bordering the road on the risfht rose a 
series of hillocks on which the vegetation partook of 
the character of tropical luxuriance, whilst on the left 
lay the placid lake of Valencia, ever and anon burst- 
ing on our sight through the forests, or opening up 
to fuller proportions as it skirted our line of travel. 
An excellent view of this inland sea was obtained 
from " a quiet spot " near the 'pueblo of La Cabrera. 

The Lake of Valencia or Tacarigua, situated 14 10 
feet above the level of the sea, is thirty-one miles in 
length, and its maximum width is over twelve miles. 
It has twenty-two islands ; near that of Cabo Blanco, 
according to Codazzi, there is a beautiful stone, rising 
in the form of a square table about two varas above 
the water's level, which may be " considered as a 
natural nilometer, and nothing is wanting but feet and 
inches marked upon it to indicate exactly the increase 
or decrease of the waters." Aragua aflfords an inte- 
resting example of the evil influence of the wholesale 
destruction of trees in lessening running streams. 
From the peculiar configuration, its rivers, instead 



160 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ix. 

of making their way to the sea, accumulate in the 
lowest part of the valley, and form this beautiful lake. 
When Humboldt visited this district the inhabi- 
tants told him that there was a slow but perceptible 
diminution in its waters. The town of Valencia, 
founded originally half a league from the lake, was 
a league and a half from it in Humboldt's time, and 
the land which had once been covered with water 
was transformed into tich fields of coffee and sugar- 
cane, whilst the lake island of La Cabrera became a 
peninsula. So notorious was the gradual drying-up 
of the lake, that to account for it a theory of the 
existence of a subterranean outlet into the ocean was 
generally accepted, though the illustrious traveller 
himself thought otherwise, and attributed the cause 
to the great destruction of the forests of Aragua. 
By felling the trees which cover the tops and sides 
of mountains without replanting others, men in every 
clime prepare at once two calamities for future gene- 
rations — want of fuel and scarcity of water. The 
province of Aragua was once populous and prosperous, 
but the bloody War of Independence having drained 
it of men and money, its fields fell out of cultiva- 
tion, and the tropical products quickly reconquered 
much of the land from which they had been driven ; 
and instead of the lake continuing to dry up, it 
increased in volume, so that, with an easterly wind, 
the road from Maracay to Valencia was covered with 
water. A fear now came upon the people, not of the 
lake disappearing, but of it inundating the surround- 
ing lands. 




A QUIET SPOT, NEAR THE LAKE OF VALENCIA. 



Chap, ix.] " THE GARDEN OF THE WORLDS IGl 

Humboldt was not positive in the fact of having 
discovered the equilibrium between the waters which 
entered the lake of Valencia and those which were 
lost by evaporation, but Senor Anjel Maria Alamo, a 
savant of Venezuela, told me he had discovered that the 
lake had an outlet in the channel of Buscarito, which, 
instead of bringing in fresh water, as was previously 
supposed, carried it to the table-land forming the 
fountain-head of the river Poito. This river, with 
its very abundant head- waters, falls into the Pao, an 
easily navigable stream joining the Portugueza, an 
arm of the Apure, and so connected with the Orinoco 
and the sea. 

The lake is inexpressibly beautiful. The vast 
expanse of waters is relieved by the dense and 
variegated foliao;e of the numerous islands scattered 
over it. Its margins are covered with trees and wild 
luxuriant vef^etation, whilst in the distance rise the 
hill ranges girding the "Lake of Beauty." As I 
gazed upon this wide-expanded loveliness, I could 
almost pardon the Venezuelans calling the valleys of 
Aragua " The garden of the world," but would myself 
modify their assertion, and say, " They might become 
so." 

After leaving Cabrera we passed through the estate 
of Don Antonio Blanco, of Caracas. It is ten miles 
long and three wide, and in former years supported 
from 5000 to 10,000 head of cattle. After taking 
coffee with the agent in charge, we rambled over the 
place to see its pretty cascades and hot-water 
springs. 

VOL. I. L 



1G2 



THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. 



[Chap. ix. 



Passing the pueblo of San Joaquin, the road for 
some distance ran along the foot of a ridge of uncul- 
tivated hills. 

Nine miles further on we came to Guacara, where 
a number of well-made, handsome Indians had tlieir 
quarters. They were -very different from the degraded 




A COFFEE PLANTATION IN THE VALLEYS OF ARAGUA. 



objects who in many parts of the Kepublic are all 
that remain of the indigenes. The population was 
about 2000. The town was founded by the natives 
of the country at the close of the seventeenth century. 
It is situated near the lake, and distant from Valencia 
eight to ten miles. Close by are the ruins of what 
was intended to be by its builder, the Marques de 



Chap, ix.] WAR'S VORACIOUS APPETITE. 1G3 

Toro, a magnificent mansion ; it was commenced after 
the close of the War of Independence, but never 
finished. 

The next 'pueblo was Los Guayos, which contained 
about 500 inhabitants, and had a small church. 

The road from Victoria may fairly be pronounced 
bad, going over broken ground, sloughs, and all 
manner of unpleasantnesses. At one part of the day's 
journey, seeing a few cattle, I called the attention of 
General Martinez to the fact, and asked him how it 
was that on such rich pasture-land this was so rare a. 
sight. He told me that a few years back the plains 
had been covered with them, but, during hostilities, 
the soldiers had killed and eaten whatever they could 
lay hands upon, and thus the stock had disappeared. 
Fertile as this valley is. War, with hungry appetite, 
has swallowed up the substance of its people. In 
many of the places we journeyed through the land 
was only cultivated in patches. 

We arrived at Valencia, the capital of Carabobo, in 
the afternoon, and found it a well-situated, pretty 
little town of 14,000 inhabitants, with every appear- 
ance of a business character about it. It stands on a 
gentle declivity of the foot-hills of the Guacamaya, a 
favourable position from which stretch roads to the 
centres of the republic. Valencia has had a chequered 
career : founded in 1555, its early prosperity received 
a rude shock from the French corsairs who, in 1677, 
coming from Puerto-Cabello, burned and sacked it. 
The wrecked city was rebuilt only to be once more 
destroyed ; this time not by human hands but by 



164 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ix. 

the agency of the terrible earthquake of 1812. It 
remained in a dilapidated condition during the stormy- 
period of the War of Independence, but is once more 
assuming fair proportions and commercial importance ; 
its market-hall is one of the finest in the republic. 
We also saw a large sugar refinery which was to be 
worked by steam, a novelty in these regions. 

At Valencia I had an interview with General 
Guzman Blanco. This conversation took place at a 
critical period in the history of the republic, and he 
received me in private. He was, of course, very 
much pre-occupied with the war ; indeed, whilst the 
audience lasted, his generals were impatiently await- 
ing in the ante-rooms for their orders. We talked 
about the concession of the islands, which he was 
unwilling to grant until they had Ijeen officially ex- 
amined. Everything had to give place to the war, but 
he promised that, as soon as the campaign was over, 
and he had returned to Caracas, a commission should be 
appointed. With the return of peace he would be able 
to give attention to the development of the republic's 
resources, and would consider the various methods 
by which this might be accomplished. He expressed 
his conviction of the importance of various public 
works and industrial projects broached to him, and 
told me not to be disappointed at delays, as afi'airs 
could not progress as rapidly in Venezuela as in 
England. Whenever the Government was in a posi- 
tion to close for the lease of the islands, I might 
expect to have the preference over all others, and ho 
hoped the longer residence this necessitated would 



Chap, ix.] SUGAR PLANTATIONS. 165 

not prove disagreeable to me. The President, who 
spoke broken English, was amused at my venturing 
to Venezuela and undertaking such eiiterprises before 
mastering the Spanish language. 

Under cultivation in the lake district of the valleys 
of Aragua and Carabobo there were about forty sugar 
plantations, whilst a dozen more had been totally 
ruined by the revolutions. These forty establish- 
ments had 1 100 tahlones (or, roughly speaking, 2000 
English acres) in cultivation. The largest had 120, 
the smallest 5, but the average was 27^ tablones. 
The estimated production was equivalent to 98 
quintales of saccharine matter for every tablon, or a 
pound of sugar for every square vara — something 
over an English square yard. Of these haciendas 
three were worked by steam, twenty-two by water- 
power, and fifteen by animals. The only one that 
had a centrifugal machine was that called La Que- 
brada described in the earlier part of this chapter. 
The total acreage thrown out of cultivation by the 
troubled times through which the district had passed 
was enormous. This had been very modestly esti- 
mated at 1320 tablones, whose value at $150 each 
represent a capital of about $200,000. 

The management of these haciendas was rarely 
conducted on scientific principles. Too often blind 
routine was followed ; the processes were guided by 
traditional wisdom, without regard to better methods 
devised by the careful investigations and ingenuity of 
modern days. There is, of course, another side to 
this matter, and it may be that the primordial genus 



16G TI]R LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ix. 

was happier iu its simply-managed world — it had 
only seven wonders ! — than we who live surrounded 
by marvels. A Venezuelan writer (Abdul Azis) has 
expressed his preference for "vegetating in the plea- 
sant life of our ancestors, without more ambition than 
to live and die in the faith of Christ, and without 
other satisfaction than that of watching the increase 
and prospering fatness of the stomach — happiness 
being measured by its degrees of prominence." 

Complaints were made of evils resulting from 
the non-residence of many of the owners on their 
lands, necessitating a system of partnership between 
ajrents and owners for working- estates — said to 
be the reverse of efficient or economical ; but the 
srreatest bar to the well-beino; of Arao-ua and Cara- 
bobo was war. The struggle of 1871 is supposed 
to have taken 2000 men from its industries ; as 
workers, their labour was paid at the rate of $135 
each per annum. The men, instead of receiving 
$270,000 as workmen, cost the Treasury not less 
than $265,000 as soldiers. 

The sweet-cane in its ripest state contains from 18 
to 20 per cent- of sugar, but in actual cultivation in 
Venezuela not more than from 8 to 10 per cent, is ex- 
tracted. This is partly owing to the plants being cut 
down before they have attained full maturity, and it 
is to some extent also due to the imperfection of the 
ordinary processes of extraction. Such was the opinion 
expressed in a paper read before the Sociedad de 
Ciencias Fisicas of Cardcas by a member who had 
given much attention to investigating microscopically 



Chap. ix.J HOW TO TREAT SUGAR-CANE. 167 

the structure of the j)lant. According to his researches, 
it is easy to distinguish three different elements in the 
shoot of the cane — the epidermis, the vascular texture, 
and the parenchyma. This last, the heart of the 
plant, consists of hexagonal cells, and encloses a 
colourless liquor, with a watery basis, whilst its most 
important constituent is sugar mixed with albumen. 
By a process of crushing the cane, the cellular tissue 
is destroyed, and the juice it contains is expressed. 
But the two coverings in which the parenchyma is 
enclosed prevent the sap from being thoroughly 
extracted, and, in fact, from the expressed cane a 
second quality of the saccharine lic[uor is obtained. 
Another disadvantage connected with the system of 
cylindrical presses — the universal plan adopted in 
Aragua — is, that the liquid when obtained is always 
mixed with albumen, necessitating a further process 
of clarification. If the largest and best machines 
Were used a greater percentage of saccharine juice 
could be obtained. 

It has been proposed to substitute the method of 
diffusion already applied with success to the extrac- 
tion of beetroot sugar, and still more appropriate to 
the cane. In this plan the beets, after being cut into 
small slices, are placed in common water of 40° C. 
Then occurs the curious phenomenon of endosmosis 
and exosmosis. The water and the saccharine juice 
set up contrary currents, the sugar passes through 
the walls of its cells into the water, and the latter 
penetrates into its place, until an exact equilibrium is 
established. The first water is then drawn off and 



168 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap, ix 

replaced by fresh, aud tliis process is repeated until 
all the sugar has been extracted. This method has 
been applied in some of the West Indian sugar 
manufactories. 

The minimum cost of the production of a quintal 
(lOO lbs.) of raw sugar is, in the — 

French West Indies . . . $5.50 
English West Indies, and Demerara 4.69 
India, and the English Possessions in 

the East . . . . 4. 1 2 

Cuba, and Porto Rico (formerly) . 3.28 
The cost in Brazil is not known, but it is not less 
than in the Spanish colonies. Dr. Carlos Arvelo, after 
citing these figures, gives a detailed estimate of the 
expenses in Venezuela of sugar cultivation, and 
reckons the cost at $3.63!.'" 

One of the three days I spent in Valencia was 
rendered noteworthy by breakfasting with Senor 
Rafael Arvelo, a man of infinite wit, a poet, and 
formerly Minister of Finance and Vice-President. 
He was a brilliant talker, and well informed on all 
subjects pertaining to Venezuelan politics and poli- 
ticians. There was a number of the neighbouring 
proprietors present, and the table showed that in 
addition to his many other attributes Senor Arvelo 
deserved that of gourmet. A hon mot of his may 
be repeated : It refers to the peculations of an im- 
portant official in the past of the republic, who, when 
he was employed in the exchequer, lost a finger of 

* The articles from which, these details have been drawn were 
printed in La Ojnnion Nacional, Nos. 575, 671, 676, 681. 



Chap, ix.] PEACE AND WAR. 169 



his right haud through au accident. Seiior Arvelo 
congratulated the republic on the circumstance, as 
he said it would be a saving of 20 per cent, to the 
public treasury ! 

The temperature of Valencia, about 80" F. in the 
shade, was not disagreeable. From one of the twin 
towers of the noble old church a fine view of the 
country was obtained ; the rich and fertile vales all 
around lay in tranquil loveliness like the sleeping 
beauty in the wood, only waiting for the kiss of 
peace to waken them to life and industry. With 
Goldsmith we may say — 

*' Such are the charms to barren states assigned; 
Their wants but few, their wishes all confined; 
Yet let them only share the praises due, 
If few their -wants, their pleasures are but few: 
l"or every want that stimulates the breast 
Becomes a source of pleasure when redrest." 

The gratification of the desires arising from a higher 
civilization will prove a strong stimulus to action ; 
food and shelter are not the only things requisite to 
give happiness to refined and educated people, they 
are merely the lowest of their cares ; and it is in the 
exercise of intellect, in the cultivation of the arts, and 
in the consequent expansion of the mind, that they 
find their best pleasures. To replace the excitement 
of war and strife by the not less keen struggles of 
commerce and industry, and to teach that peace hath 
her victories not less than war, would be to confer a 
lasting benefit upon the Venezuelan people. 

When my hotel-bill appeared at Valencia on the 



170 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ix. 

eve of my departure, it was mucli less than might 
have been expected. My four days' stay, includ- 
ing the cost of a dinner given to a number of Valen- 
cianos, was charged ^2, los. Considering the hard 
things which some travellers have thought fit to say 
of the exorbitancy of the hotel-keepers' charges in 
Venezuela, it is a simple duty to mention this, and 
to say also, that, with rare exceptions, I found very 
moderate demands made by them, and the hospitality 
of the country was such that in many instances it 
was quite unnecessary for me to resort to 'posadas 
at all. 

No other passengers were bound for Puerto-Cabello, 
whither I wished to go, so I had to engage the entii'e 
coach. It was of the covered-in-waofgon order of 
conveyance swung on stout leather straps, well-fitted 
for the rough mountain roads of the coast range. The 
roof was supported by columns around which canvas 
curtains could be drawn. It was thus open enough 
in fine weather, and easily convertible into a close 
carriage in case of one of those deluges of rain so 
common in tropical countries. The driver on a level 
with the passengers on his seat in front, managed his 
three horses abreast ; they were small, strong-built 
animals, capable of enduring any amount of fatigue. 
With the exception of two or three foreigners of the 
lazaroni type, the drivers as a class were very civil 
and obliging. 

The morning air was so cold, with a temperature at 
65°, that the protection of an overcoat was needed. 
We passed Barbula, a cofi"ee and sugar estate, exceed- 



Chap, ix.] CROSSING THE COAST-RANGE. 171 

ingly well wooded ; and the village of Naguanagua, 
with its 500 inhabitants. Fifteen to twenty miles 
from Valencia brought us to the summit, from which 
looking round 

" I saw the sweep of glorious woods far down the mountain side." 

About 700 feet from the divide we came to Agua 
Caliente, where there are hot-water springs much 

■ 




A BRIDGE ON THE MOUNTAIN ROAD TO THE COAST. 

esteemed for their curative powers. The temperature 
there was 83° F. After breakfastiug at El Cambour, 
W8 drove on, passing a ruined coffee plantation near 
Las Trincheras, where there is a well-built wooden 
bridge over the gulch. For a long distance only an 
occasional patch of cultivated land on the hillsides 



172 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ix. 

was seen — from one of these near the roadside a view 
of Puerto-Cabello was obtainable. 

After winding along a zig-zag, rough-and-tumble 
road, cut in the sides of a precipitous mountain-gorge, 
whose sinuosities straightened out as the descent 
became more gradual, and the gorge expanded into a 
broad undulating valley, we neared the coast, and on 
reaching it struck off at right angles in an easterly 
direction into a long, deep, sandy tract of country, 
over which it was necessary to pass before reaching 
Puerto-Cabello. At this spot abruptly terminates the 
Puerto-Cabello and San Felipe Eailway. Here we saw 
ruined carriages, and the rails in places torn up — a 
sad spectacle, illustrating the evil of civil war which 
spared not even the instruments of progress that were 
transforming the country. Very little work would 
be required to put the permanent way in order again, 
and with a few trucks drawn by horses this road, now 
for eight or ten miles so trying to animals, would be- 
come comparatively easy. Looking seaward, the eye 
rested upon little islands lying off the coast. They 
were thick with chaparal, excepting where a clearance 
had been made, and the ground brought under culti- 
vation. A few graceful cocoa-nut trees were irregu- 
larly scattered over the surface ; these islands suit 
them, as they flourish best when their roots strike 
into a salty soil, and their tall tops are kissed by the 
sea-breezes. There were some coffee plantations on 
the lower levels of the coast near the city, but they 
showed very few signs whatever of prosperity, as the 
intense heat is detrimental to the plant. This is, how- 



Chap, ix.] THE SUBURBS OF PUERTO-CABELLO. 173 

ever, of less consideration, as cojQTee in such districts 
becomes a "by-product," and the mangos, bananas, 
and other fruit-bearing shade trees, are of the first im- 
portance. Eivers are numerous near Puerto-Cabello, 
that of Borburata being the largest ; during certain 
seasons of the year the quantity of water it brings 
down from the hills is very considerable. Paso Eeal, 



RIVER BORBUHATA, NEAR PrERTO-CABELI.O. 



one of the most beautiful residences on this part of 
the coast, we passed on our right. The Puerto- 
Cabello merchants, more tlian any others in the 
republic, are fond of country life, and numerous, 
therefore, are the first-class houses in its suburbs. 
I reached Puerto-Cabello about two o'clock p.m., 



174 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. ix. 

and on embarking on the ** Borussia," s.s., for La 
Guayra, a Government official accosted me with a 
request for my passport. That which I showed liim 
was from the Mayor of Caracas, and authorized a 
journey to the city of Valencia and back. As it did 
not specify a return by way of Puerto- Cabell o and 
the sea, my interrogator rather demurred to receive it, 
thinking apparently that I had come out of my way, 
perhaps with no good object. On this I produced 
my second safeguard, a passport from the President 
himself, authorising me to go and come "by land 
and by sea, how and when " it seemed good to me, 
without let or hindrance " from any of the authorities, 
civil or military," to whom it recommended me 
expressly for " security and consideration." This 
had the desired effect; not only was I allowed to 
pass, but I was afraid the vigilant official would have 
done me the honour of having me carried on board. 
Amongst the passengers was the agent of the Que- 
brada Mining Company, going home to England with 
a pistol-ball in his shoulder — a token of remembrance 
from a son of the " Vaterland." 

, Next day we landed at La Guayra, from whence I 
proceeded to Caracas, and thus terminated my excur- 
sion through the rich and fertile valleys of Aragua. 

The carriage road, along which the greater part of 
my journey w^as made, ran through the three states 
of Bolivar, Aragua, and Carabobo. The cities and 
villages we passed through contained 146,500 inhabi- 
tants. The three states have an aggregate population 
of about 450,000. 



CHAPTER X. 

IMMIGRATION — EARTHQUAKES — CUSTOMS. 

" Now, by two-headed Janus, 
Nature hath fram'd strange fellows in her time." 

— Shakespeare. 

In Caracas the stream of my life flowed on equably. 
In visiting, in adding to my collection of objects illus- 
trating the natural history of the country, and in 
pushing negotiations for commercial concessions and 
privileges at the hands of the Government, I had 
ample scope for exertion, and very little time for 
idleness. 

In going about the country I noticed that various 
species of the Maguey grew in apparently exhaustless 
profusion, even the poorest soils produced this plant 
in abundance ; its fibres, which yield a fine hemp, 
might easily be made a source of considerable wealth to 
the republic. At present it is only obtained on a small 
scale, but if the difficulties standing in the way of 
its more systematic utilization were removed by the 
introduction of improved machinery, the result Avould 
be a new trade, for which plenty of the raw material 
is at hand. With this object in view, the Govern- 
ment might very well off"er a prize. The fibre is 
considered to be vastly superior to the best Manilla, 



176 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. x. 

and brings a very high price. In my travels I have 
seen large tracts of country where manufacturing 
establishments would find sufficient raw material 
ready for their supply, until cultivated crops of the 
maguey could be planted, grown, and reaped. 

The sight of all the wealth of nature spread around 
often turned my thoughts in the direction of immi- 
gration. A colony of Englishmen would find full 
scope for their energies. The Germans have tried 
to establish at least one settlement here ; the Colonia 
Tovar, which is not very far from Carjlcas, though 
without any carriage road to it, has only been 
partially successful, a road being a sine qud non of 
prosperity. Another reason may perhaps be con- 
tained in the following anecdote told of a German 
emigration agent, who went to Venezuela to spy out 
the fatness of the land, but on hearing that beer was 
a shilling a bottle gave up all idea of inducing his 
thirsty compatriots to leave Germany for a country 
where drinking was so costly. Englishmen, of course, 
would grumble at the deprivation, but with their rooted 
taste for alcohol in a more fiery state they would 
contrive to get a fair share of intemperance out of the 
cheap and crude aguardiente produced in the republic. 

On one occasion I had a conversation with a Mr. 
Castro respecting the estate of Tacasuruma, a property 
in the state of Carabobo, containing about 200,000 
acres of rich agricultural and wooded lands, very 
suitable for a colony of emigrants. He gave me 
samples of the timber growing on it, including about 
twenty valuable kinds. The property may be had for 



Chap. X.] ISOLATION OF VENEZUELA. 177 

about 2s. 6d. per acre — freehold. But all the districts 
of the Aragua and Tuy offer tempting opportunities 
for colonizing. Thousands of men and women, stifling 
in the slums of London, Manchester, and other large 
towns, dragging out a miserably monotonous existence, 
would there find smiling valleys ready to receive 
them, and give them health, ease, and plenty. Nor 
would the task of cultivation be an arduous one, and 
in place of the cold solitudes emigrants have to en- 
counter in Canada, they would in the republic meet 
with warm friendship and hospitality, and their in- 
fluence in return would have a salutary effect in 
checking civil outbreaks, absolutely the only draw- 
backs to its prosperity. 

Although Venezuela is not far removed from the 
route of travel to North and South America, it is not 
on the beaten track, and has therefore remained to 
some degree solitary and unobserved by pilgrims from 
other lands. It has dwelt apart. AVhether or no the 
effects of this isolation can be detected in the political 
history and revolutions of the country would offer 
fruitful matter for speculation and conjecture. A 
possible cause for the neglect displayed towards 
Venezuela by travellers is afforded by the fact that 
whilst it is full of picturesque scenery and objects of 
interest to the geologist, the natural historian, and 
men of science generally, it does not possess any 
spectacular freaks of nature like those which draw 
the sightseers of both hemispheres to "decline and 
fall " at Niagara, or to form rings around the massive 
girths of the big trees of California. 

VOL. I. M 



178 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. x. 

The 5th of July is an important clay in Caracas, 
being the anniversary of the famous DecLaration of 
Independence, made in 1 8 1 1 by the Junta of Caracas, 
and is celebrated with great spirit. It is fitting that 
nations, like individuals, should commemorate their 
natal days. It is curious that old England has no 
national festival of this description ; perhaps, like 
Topsy, she was never born but " only growed." 

The previous evening the good people of Cardcas 
took to their usual method of testifying pleasure and 
delight. We had fireworks in abundance, and the 
streets filled with spectators, watching the artistic 
effects produced by a host of impromptu pyrotechnists. 
On the morning of the 5th the gaiety of the metro- 
polis was increased by an unexpected spectacle, the 
triumphant entry of twelve hundred soldiers headed 
by Generals Alcdntara and Quevedo. These were 
part of the forces that had held the States of Aragua 
and Bolivar for the liberal party, and they met with a 
correspondingly warm reception from the " Yellows." 

In the cathedral there was a Tc Deum, at which 
the President and all the high officials connected with 
the government and the various corporations, pre- 
sented themselves. On his way to mass the President 
was received with the customary military honours, 
and afterwards held a reception at the Government 
House, where the diplomatic body was represented in 
great force. In reply to the congratulatory speeches 
addressed to him, he spoke with prophetic confidence 
of the triumph of the liberal party, and of the coming 
defeat and extinction of the armed "Blues," then giving 



Chap. X.] THE POSTAL SERVICE. 179 

trouble in some parts of the republic. This speech 
was loudly applauded, and the orator was conducted 
by the assembly in an extemporized triumphal pro- 
cession to his own house. 

It is a good plan for foreigners to avoid mixing 
with the politics of the foreign countries in which they 
may -find themselves, and to this plan I steadily ad- 
hered as a simple matter of duty. My resolve to keep 
free from all partizan complications caused me to 
refuse the request sometimes made for the exercise of 
what influence I was possessed of, in favour of persons 
in difficulties with the Government, and sometimes I 
felt the effect of these political anarchisms to be 
somewhat annoying. 

The morning after Independence Day there was 
great excitement in town, as the authorities had seized 
the mails in the expectation of intercepting a revolu- 
tionary correspondence. [This w^ould have shocked 
me very much if I had not been old enough to 
remember hearing the fate of the brothers Bandiera, 
and the opening of letters in the English Post-office, 
said to be connected with that unfortunate afiair.] 
The seizure caused a delay in the delivery of the cor- 
respondence, yet no case came to my knowledge of a 
single letter addressed to, or despatched by me, failing 
to reach its proper destination. I was told that some- 
time back in a neighbouring republic, the empty Eng- 
lish mail bags were never returned, although urgent 
demands were made by the English Government for 
their restoration. By a curious coincidence, about the 
same time, some of the soldiers sported new clothes 



180 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. x. 

decorcatccl with the familiar initials " G.P.O.," on parts 
of the body where decorations are not generally worn. 
AVhether this result was due to the individual energy 
of the warriors, or to some knavish contractor, does 
not appear — however, the alienated hags never passed 
throuorh St, Martin-le-Grand acjain. 

Amongst the many foreigners in Carjlcas, I met a 
Yankee captain who had had a somewhat eventful 
career. At San Francisco, in 1 849, he got his ship con- 
demned as unfit for further service, then bought her 
in himself for an old song, and adopted her for a store- 
ship. He made $40,000 in the wharfage business, and 
then invested all the money in a Central American 
revolution, which proved a disastrous failure. After 
this he w^ent to Gold Bluff, where he was appointed 
Judge, and whilst acting in this capacity, there was 
a row in which a Yankee was killed by a party of 
Frenchmen, whom the Yankees had attacked. Al- 
thous^h it was certain that the dead man had both 
provoked and deserved his fate, the mob broke open 
the prison and lynched the Frenchmen. This incident 

disgusted Capt. A , who resigned his appointment, 

as he thought that people who could act in such an 
unconstitutional manner were not worthy to have a 
" born gentleman " as judge. He shook the dust 
from his feet and " skedaddled." 

I might have failed of belief as to the antecedents 
of this worthy representative of the " almighty nation," 
but my own experience in the " Far Far West " had 
taught me the many parts one man may play, of 
which the following is an example : — 



Chap. X.] RECORDER BOGLEY. 181 

Once when in California, I visited the newly-dis- 
covered quicksilver mines in Lake County, to report 
upon them. A day's journey by steamboat, stage- 
coach, and horseback, brought me from San Francisco 
to the mining district, which was situated amongst 
wild and rugged mountains on the extreme fringe of 
civilization. After seven miles' ride beyond the last 
habitation, the curling smoke from a miner's cabin 
became visible, and the loud barking of a dog led me 
to suppose that the rude tenement was inhabited. 

As I approached there issued from the door a 
weird-looking specimen of humanity, who scanned 
me very closely, a good office I heartily reciprocated. 

He was tall and thin, with a complexion upon 
which a jaundiced liver and a broiling sun had set 
their marks. Eough, red, and disorderly was his 
hair; an eye was missing, but the one which re- 
mained to him seemed fully capable of doing double 
duty. 

The first glance was unfavourable, and I regretted 
my temerity in venturing alone within his domains. 

Upon my requesting him to direct me to the house 
of Eecorder Bogley, he responded quickly : 

"I guess, strainger, I'm Bogley the recorder, 
monarch of these yar diggin's, and me and my 
doag united air the population," 

A comic twinkle in the site of the lost eye reas- 
sured me, and I felt somewhat ashamed of my first 
distrust ; his appearance, however, was even then 
only that of a good-natured and jovial demon. 

It was not necessary to wait long for an invitation ; 



182 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. x. 

he told me to disembark from my quadruped, and 
make myself sociable by sitting down to a mess of 
pork and beans. 

" I reckon, traveller," said he, " you'll not find me 
so bad as my looks." 

That was impossible ! 

During my week's sojourn with Bogley, he sur- 
rounded me with all the attention and rude hospitality 
a rough miner could bestow. Although I shared his 
" bed and board," some time elapsed ere I could mus- 
ter courage to ask about the lost eye ; but at length 
the lonely man gave me the following account : — 

"In the gold mania of '49, in one of the most 
out-of-the-way diggings then discovered, I had ' struck 
it rich,' and w^as fast making my ' pile,' and naturally 
looked round for some one to share it with me. 

"Women were scarce in those quarters; our camp 
was rich, for it boasted one. 

" She had many suitors, though none made such 
headway as the handsome Bogley. Don't smile, 
Britisher," said he, "I'm a changed man." 

I acquiesced, and the recorder went on : 

" There was one fellow, however, who ran me a 
close race ; but the green-eyed monster took him in 
tow, and in consequence he lost way. Vengeance 
lurked in his eye ; he only waited a fitting oppor- 
tunity to \vreak it on me. One night returning from 
doing my devoirs to the Queen of Shindy Flat, I saw 
a dark object spring up in front of me, and before my 
thoughts could be collected, a deadly blow on the eye 
felled me to the earth. The one moment of conscious- 



Chap. X.] REVENGE. 183 

ness between seeing the assassin and receiving the 
blow, told me who was my antagonist. All night 
I lay on the ground insensible, and was found 
next morning by some of the miners, who carried 
me to bed, where a raging fever prostrated me for 
weeks. 

*' Careful attention on the part of my neighbours 
eventually brought me round. In my first lucid in- 
terval I borrowed a looking-glass and examined my 
visage. What a change 1 the handsome Bogley was a 
scarcely human wreck. I took a solemn oath to slay 
the villain who had dealt that treacherous blow. Life 
for me had no other object than revenge ; under that 
more absorbing passion even my love for the Queen 
died out. After a last farewell to the ' lone star ' of 
Shindy Flat, the camp was abandoned, and I went in 
search of my enemy, who had gone some weeks 
before. The coward fled when he knew that my 
danger was passed, for he feared the results of my 
anger. For a long time my search seemed unavail- 
ing. At last, however, a place was reached where he 
had been six months before. His track was followed, 
each hour's success feeding my revenge, each day's 
sun setting on increased wrath. For weeks and 
weeks the scent grew stronger, till at last the prey 
was run to earth. He was in the drinking-saloon of 
a mining camp, and through the open doorway I saw 
my enemy and entered. 

" His attention was riveted on a game of poker. 

" He held a ' flush,' and as I stole close up to him, 
he said : * I go twenty dollars on my hand.' 



184 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. x. 

"I hissed in his ears: 'I cover your twenty, and 
call you ! ' 

" He knew my voice, and was about to spring up, 
putting his hand to his revolver. 

" ' Too late,' said I, and quick as lightning, up to 
its hilt in his heart, I ran my bowie-knife. 

" He fell dead ! 

"His companions rushed forward and seized me, 
and I would there and then have been killed had not 
the bar-keeper interfered on my behalf. My story in 
extenuation was of no avail ; a brief consultation was 
held, and it was determined that on the morrow I 
should * swing for it. ' 

" Thus came upon me the cruel sentence of Judge 
Lynch. Bound hand and foot with cords, and guarded 
all night long by relays of men with loaded revolvers, 
fearfully the night crawled on. 

" The morning dawned ; I had slept and eaten little 
before being led out to execution. There was great 
excitement in camp. A noosed rope suspended over 
the bough of a tree constituted the gallows. The 
style was simple but expressive ; there was no black 
cap, no pinioning cord, and no righteous pillar of the 
church stood by to pour into my ears the soothing 
words of religion ; a ' hard old death ' was to be 
mine, with no time for repentance, none for pardon 
left ! The noose was thrown loosely over my neck, 
and the operators retired a short distance to take 
hold of the other end of the rope ; this is the mode 
adopted in lynching, so that each man may share the 
responsibility of the execution ; but just as the word 



Chap. X.] A E UN FOR LIFE. 185 

was given to raise me above misfortune, I slipped the 
noose from off my neck and ran, followed by tlie 
howling pack. Bang, bang, bang, went revolvers ! 
balls whizzed past my head, but still I held on unhurt 
far ahead of the crowd, till one, fleeter than the rest, 
gained foot by foot. Gradually the others fell back, 
and the race lay between us. I was running for dear 
life, and put out all my energies, but to no avail ; 
nearer and nearer he came, till I could hear his foot- 
steps and almost feel his breath. A single glance 
round made me stumble, and he fell upon me. Heap- 
ing deep-toned imprecations on my poor head, he 
ordered me to rise and follow him back to the scaffold, 
which office I quietly performed, as there was no 
alternative. He sardonically observed that he ad- 
mired my pluck more than my running ! I walked 
at his left side, and as I listened to his sarcastic jeers, 
a determination came upon me that although my last 
stroke for existence had proved abortive, another 
should be made. I felt endowed with Herculean force 
as I swung my arm round and struck another blow 
for life. He fell like a stunned ox. Before he could 
recover his wind two or three hundred yards were 
between us. There was no fear of my being turned 
into a pillar of salt, I never looked back until there 
were three hundred miles separating me from the 
athlete of that mining camp." 

Whenever I cast my eyes on Bogley afterwards I 
thought of this startling episode in his wasted life, 
and the strange career of the Yankee captain recalled 
it to my mind. 



186 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. x. 

The 1 6th of July was the fiesta of Bruzual, who 
was one of the leaders of the liberal party, and died 
in Curazao from wounds received in fighting against 
the " revolucion azul " at Puerto - Cabello. There 
was a grand procession at the feast ; his portrait was 
taken to the square called Poleo, where it occupied 
the centre of a trophy, crowned by the banner of the 
valiant '^ soldado sin miedo.'' An immense crowd of 
people assisted at this after-death ovation, not the 
least interesting part of the affair being the dark-eyed 
Senorasand Senoritas who thus testified their respect 
for the mighty dead. It may be that some of them 
had an interest also in the living. When the portrait 
was safely deposited in its place. Col. L. M. Mona- 
steries, who had been aide-de-camp to Bruzual, pro- 
nounced a few feeling and appropriate words, and 
Seiior A. L. Guzman made one of those brilliant ora- 
tions for which he is fiimous. This improvisation 
was greatly applauded. The widow of Bruzual was 
present, and his father also, but his feelings overcame 
him so much that he could only say a few sentences 
of gratitude to the people who had recognised the 
civic virtues and heroic qualities of his son. The 
district of El Teque that day had its name officially 
changed to Estado Bruzual, and all was gaiety ; music, 
flags, fireworks, and triumphal arches were in all the 
streets. On one of the latter might be read : 

" Bruzual ! sobre tu tumba se alzo el partido liberal, 
mas fuerte para veneer y mas grande para perdonar. 
Bruzual I no hai monumento mas digno de tu memoria 
que el corazon de tus conciudadanos." 



Chap. X.] THE RAINY SEASON. 187 

The greatest good order prevailed. Precautions 
had been taken by the Government against any like- 
lihood of riotous conduct by the prohibition of the 
sale of intoxicating liquors, although the posadas and 
puljoerias were allowed to remain open. I noticed 
one ardent ohrero who appeared to have evaded this 
order, and who howled lustily as the procession 
passed : " Viva el General Bruzual ! El hombre que 
murio por su palabra Carajo ! " I asked for a 
translation of this enthusiastic cry, and found it was 
equivalent to saying : " Long live the man who died 
for his word G — d d — m ! " 

A few days later a taste of the rainy season was 
given us, and in Venezuela when it comes it does its 
work most effectually, and all business is at an end 
for the time. If you have an important engagement 
you are not expected to keep it ; a funeral, a marriage, 
a revolution, or even a bill may be put off on this 
account. The streets of Cardeas, slightly hollow in 
the centre, are converted into torrents of rushing 
water, and a human being is as rarely seen as though 
it were a city of the dead. These rains will last from 
two to three hours, sometimes for an entire day, and 
owing to the declivity from Caracas to the river Guaire, 
they serve as regulators of the public health, scaveng- 
ing the town most efficiently, thus rendering it, com- 
paratively speaking, clean and healthy. 

Every visitor to Caracas can see the effects of the 
great earthquake of 1812. Curiously enough, I never 
experienced the slightest sensation of a disturbance of 
this nature, although five or six terremotos happened 



188 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. x. 

during my stay, and some of them severe ones. There 
would have been no novelty to me in the impression 
produced, as in California I had often felt them. 
Very early one morning, whilst engaged in writing, 
some pieces of whitewash fell from the ceiling of my 
room, and naturally made me think of earthquakes ; 
as there was apparently no motion, the thought 
was dismissed, but subsequently it was stated that 
a really strong one had taken place. The British 
minister one day came to my quarters, which were 
under the embassy, and said he had just experienced 
an earthquake shock upstairs, yet on the ground floor 
I was not cognizant of the slightest movement. 
Use never becomes second nature when earthquakes 
are about ; the more they are known the less they are 
liked. It is only a new arrival who can enter into 
the spirit of the matter and fully enjoy the unique 
sensation. 

There is a curious custom at the baptisms in Vene- 
zuela. The padrinos, or godfathers, of the children 
about to be received into the Christian Church, pre- 
sent each guest with a small coin of silver or gold, 
with a hole bored in it, through which is passed 
a narrow ribbon, the colour of which is generally 
emblematic of the political party of the recipient. So 
common is this custom of presenting las mariquitas 
that many' of the smaller coins of the country are 
found to have been bored. 

Another fashion is to present bouquets to the ladies 
upon their dias de complcaTios (birthdays). On visit- 
ing the President's house on the evening of his wife's 



Chap. X.] THE FRESIDENTS RECEPTIONS. 189 

" Saint's Day," I was astonished to find the most 
lovely collection of flowers I had ever beheld. Their 
gorgeousness was only equalled by the artistic taste 
and skill displayed in the arrangement of them, and 
the entire room was loaded with delicious odours. 
The reception that evening was followed by a grand 
supper, to which I was specially invited by the 
President. 

Towards the end of June I had another conversation 
with General Guzman Blanco at his weekly reception, 
chiefly on the subject of the Barcelona concession. 
The President was willinoj that vessels loadinoj coal 
for exportation should be exempted from port dues, 
but considered "that steamers which merely stayed 
in passing, to coal, should be subjected to the usual 
charges." In reply to this : I pointed out that a total 
exemption would have the effect of drawing much 
trade to the port, and, as the harbour- works would 
all be private property, it was scarcely fair that 
the Government should have a revenue from that 
source. One of the foreign ministers present re- 
marked that Barcelona had no port, when the Presi- 
dent observed: — "Mr. S , in his recent explora- 
tions in Nueva Barcelona, has discovered a very good 
harbour for the state, and in time it will be an 
important place, and no doubt become the centre of 
commerce for the eastern section of the republic." 



CHAPTER XL 

EXPEDITION TO THE ISLANDS OF LOS ROQUES. 

" Still rougher it grew, and still harder it blew, 
And the thunder kick'd up such a hullaballoo. 
That even the Skipper began to look blue ; 

While the crew, who were few, look'd very queer too, 
And seem'd not to know what exactly to do ; 
And they who'd the charge of them wrote in the logs, 
Wind N.E. — blows a hurricane — rains cats and dogs : 
In short, it soon grew to a tempest as rude as 
That Shakespeare describes as the still-vext Bermudas." 

Ingoldsby Legends. 

Comfortably in bed at my hotel in Caracas, enjoying 
the lazy luxury of state which is neither sleep nor 
wakefulness, but combines the allurements of both, 
I was disturbed one morning by a thundering noise 
at the *' outer walls." The possibility of at last 
assisting at an earthquake occurred to my mind ; but, 
on shaking off the blankets and the remaining dregs 
of slumber which clung to me, I found it was only a 
noisy visitor demanding admittance. The sala joined 
the courtyard by ponderous double doors, as high, 
almost, as the sides of the lofty room itself. So 
capacious was the entrance that several of my friends 
have at times ridden into it on horseback, whilst 
their steeds appeared to take quite an intelligent in- 
terest in the natural curiosities with which it was 
crowded. 



Chap, xi.] AN EARLY INTRUDER. 191 

On opening my gate, there was my friend Leseur, 
who bantered me on my late rising. 

" Not up yet ! and the sun so high in the hea- 
vens ! " he cried. 

" The sun's ambitious, and likes to rise. I am not, 
and so" 

"You lie!" retorted my disturber. The proposi- 
tion was indisputable ; and after laughing at his 
English equivoque, we came to the object of his 
visit. 

He had just received a telegram from La Guayra, 
in which his assent there had informed him of havincr 
engaged a small schooner for my long projected ex- 
pedition to the islands off the coast, and his purpose 
in disturbing my morning slumbers was to incite me 
to activity in making preparations for the voyage. 

As an explanation of my being, so to speak, caught 
napping, I should observe that the days in Caracas 
were all too short, and that usually my correspon- 
dence and other writing had to be done after mid- 
night. This had one great advantage, that it saved 
me from exposure to the morning heat, which in the 
tropics is always so disagreeable to Europeans 1 On 
an average, my rest was not more than six hours ; 
but even then I was reproached for being muyjiojo 
by persons who slumbered eight or ten out of the 
twenty-four. 

The schooner was to sail at 5 p.m., for in that part 
of the Caribbean Sea the wind " close in land " goes 
down after dark ; and the next day being Sunday, no 
one would have liked to sail out of port. However, 



192 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xL 

by dint of hard ^vol•k, a passport was obtained ; and 
the requisites for the trip, including chemicals for 
qualitative analyses, instruments, &c., were all duly 
packed uj). 

At mid-day I was in a coach, bowling along to 
La Guayra, and under the influence of a few dollars 
extra, the driver landed me there safely at 3 P.M. 
There was no Martin's Act in Venezuela, and it must 
be admitted that, to do the journey from Caracas 
in three hours, the horses had to be considerably 
punished. As their owner has given up the coach 
business, and gone to his long home, this can be said 
without prejudice to the driver. 

The journey down from Caracas is one which always 
yielded me pleasure. Having an islander's love of the 
sea, the view of it from the mountain road as it burst 
upon my sight, 2000 feet below, in appearance like 
a vast ocean of burnished silver, raised enthusiastic 
feelings, A large brigantine drifting slowly along 
detracted somewhat from the picture by giving it a 
too human interest. 

I remember when in California, being at a place 
where a road comes down a valley " right " to the 
Pacific. It formed the terminus of one of the great 
highways from the Atlantic states. One day, there 
came a waggon driven by a backwoodsman, who was 
apparently enjoying his first visit to the sea. He left 
his horses in the road, and stood gazing in wonder 
and awe, at the beautiful expanse of water, reddened 
by the farewell kisses of the sun. 

I approached and offered him a friendly greeting 



^. 



\ 



">. 



"V, 













Chap, xi.] CURRENT POPULAR CONJECTURES. 193 

but there was no response. The salutation was re- 
peated and then with a deep sigh he said : 

" I guess that ocean's some ! strainger," he con- 
tinued, turning to me, " in feelishus moments like 
these, the voice of man aint in keepin' with the 
grandeaur of this air panoramar ! " 

" There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, 
There is a rapture on the lonely shore," &c., &c. 

My backwoodsman had given a practical illustration 
of Byron's poetic comparison. 

Leseur's agent, Mr. F. J. Wallis, a jolly English- 
man, in making many preparations for my comfort 
during the voyage, had provided an ample stock of 
the luxuries of life (eatables, and drinkables, and 
such like), to which he added, with praiseworthy 
humanity, a fair supply of an article which the 
majority usually hold to be the prime necessity of 
existence. 

Many were the conjectures as to the object of the 
expedition : some thought it was to search for a copper 
mine which Tradition and not Nature had located on 
El Gran Koque ; some that the British Government 
had sent me to survey the islands with a view to their 
seizure in part payment of the foreign debt, provided 
they were worth anything ; and some sagely touched 
their heads with their fingers — a graphic and common 
way of expressing a frequent opinion as to the 
peculiarities of Englishmen, and their strange, unac- 
countable doings. AVith all their curiosity no one 
thought of asking me the real purpose. Had it been 

VOL. I. N 



194 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xi. 

ill Uucle Sam's domains, every one for miles round 
would not only have " guessed/' but have pestered 
me with very direct questions on the subject. There 
is a marked dijBference in this respect between the 
Yankee and the Spanish- American. IMy object, how- 
ever, was perfectly sober and prosaic. There was 
good reason to think that phosphates existed on 
some, at least, of the islands off the Venezuelan coast. 
Negotiations had already been initiated for a con- 
cession, but, pending the result, I determined to visit 
the Los Roques group, to ascertain by personal inspec- 
tion the extent and value of the deposits. 

At half-past five we entered a boat at the wharf, 
and were soon on board the " Venus," a little schooner 
of 25 tons burden, manned by a crew of three 
under the command of Captain John Taylor, and 
flying the English flag. With a pardonable desire for 
knowledge my new quarters were soon examined. 
The schooner had a flush-deck, with a half-raised 
cabin amidships, filling so much space as to render 
locomotion on foot very difficult. At each side of the 
"quarter-deck" were structures resembling elongated 
dog-kennels or hen-coops, entered by sliding doors, 
just large enough for a person to crawl into, and turn 
round in a horizontal position. The starboard hen- 
coop was the captain's dormitory, and the other was 
set aside for my use. The feelings aroused on enter- 
injr it for the first time were such as mio^ht be ex- 
perienced in trying on a new coffin. 

The captain talked a lingo composed of the flotsam 
and jetsam of English, Spanish, Dutch, and French, 



Chap, xi.] QUARTERS ON BOARD THE " VENUS." 195 

which the sea had thrown, much the worse for wear, 
upon his native shore of the island of Curazao. His con- 
versation had a polyglot picturesqueness not without 
charm. In his desire to make me comfortable he 
placed at my disposal the services of a good steward, 
who rejoiced in the imperial name of Napoleon. 

I turned into my cabined, cribbed, and confined 
sarcophagus at an early hour, and justified its title by 
falling into a " dead sleep," which towards morning 
gave place to a dream, in which I imagined myself to 
be drifting, a solitary being in a deserted ship, across 
a dreary ocean waste. On turning out in the early 
mornino^, I found that the freshenino^ breeze of the 
night before had been followed by a calm so profound 
that all the crew, including the helmsman, had left 
their posts and gone down into the cabin. At first it 
might have been supposed that my night thoughts 
were going to prove real, but the black head of 
Napoleon popping up from below soon convinced mc 
of the utter fallacy of dreams. 

Holding firmly in the abstract the theory of early 
rising, there need be no hesitation in confessing that, 
although it was morning and the sun visible, I re- 
turned to my berth, and shortened what one might 
reasonably anticipate would turn out to be a long 
and tedious day by a forced sleep. This ended, my 
morning shower was taken in an elaborately un- 
comfortable fashion, and was followed by a turn on 
deck. It was literally a turn, as there was no room 
for anything more. It was like doing a two hours' 
constitutional in a tub. 



196 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xi. 

Tlie morning wore on, calm and bright, a true 
Sabbath, "bridal of the earth and sky." Reclining 
in the stern-sheets, shaded by the big mainsail, 
and looking upon the wide expanded beauty of the 
sea below and heaven above, I was absolutely wicked 
enough not to envy my countrymen who at that 
same moment were listening to prayers, offered up 
for the preservation of those who were " travelling 
by water." However glorious the fane may be which 
man raises and decorates with all the devotion and 
poetry of his nature, however noble and lovely he 
may make his house of worship, yet how mean and 
paltry it appears beside that vast temple not made 
with hands, whose arch is the high heavens, whose 
floor is the trackless ocean, and whose pillars are the 
everlasting hills. 

It was not until near sunset that we found our- 
selves off the long, low-lying island of Cayo Grande, 
where we hooked a large fish, but after much pulling 
and hauling the line broke, and it got off with the 
hook in its jaws. Shortly after we were more suc- 
cessful in catching a young shark. The sailors tor- 
tured it most cruelly in putting it to death. Jack 
has the same instinctive aversion to sharks that most 
landsmen have to snakes. We coasted this reef, 
called Cayo de Sal, to its extreme western end ; and 
rather than run the risk of wearing our way through 
the archipelago by dark, we thought it better policy 
to anchor for the night at tliis place. 

The number of islands forming the Los Roques 
cluster is said to be from eighty-five to one hundred ; 



Chap, xi.] 



BO YE'S SAL T- WORKS. 



197 



but including sandbanks, reefs, and rocks, the natives 
are not far off the mark in statins^ " that there is 
one for every day in the year." This group is situ- 
ated from 70 to 80 miles due north of the coast of 
Venezuela, in about lat. ii°5o' N., and long. 66°45' 
W., and embraced within an area of 264 square miles. 
We went on shore, and saw by moonlight the salt- 
works belonging to Mr. L. C. Boye, a Dutch gentleman 




CAYO DE SAL. 



of Bonaire. Several acres are covered with large Hat 
tanks, into which a little windmill pumps sea water. 
During the dry season the more volatile portions 
evaporate, and leave behind a deposit of chloride of 
sodium, better known as common salt. Heaps of it 
were lying in all directions ready for shipment. 



198 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xi. 

As statistics are always useful and intensely inte- 
resting, I took the census of Cayo de Sal, and found 
that it contained three niggers, an old dog, and eight 
empty spirit bottles, besides no women and children. 
Crime was almost unknown. There was very little 
field for the cultivation of sin, except that of a nega- 
tive character, and therefore the inhabitants were all 
judged to be pure and good, except a darkey with the 
lofty name of Gabriel Regales, who constituted their 
*' drink question." Water for household purposes 
having to be brought to the island in barrels, Boye 
kept a cooper there, who was cursed with a passion 
for alcohol, and could get through two or three bottles 
of spirits daily — when he had the chance. At Bonaire 
he was found, a wreck past hope, selling his soul for 
rum, and Mr. Boye shipped him off to the salt island, 
where there was no one to engage in such a traffic, — 
the spiritual portion of coopers, however immortal, 
not being recognised as legitimate currency. A vessel 
going to the quay was a God-send to Gabriel, as he 
generally managed to wheedle from those on board 
some of the fluid he loved. 

Next morning at six I turned out, and found the 
"Venus" under way, beating up amongst the islands, 
which are mostly small and beautified by vegetation ; 
Mosquito Cayo, shown in the illustration, being a fair 
type of this class. Looking across the group the eye 
here and there rested upon huts in which dwelt 
fishermen, for all the surrounding shoals abound in 
fish. We met several of their boats, and at one 
island exchanged for fish. In this district Lent lasts 



Chap, xi.] 



UNDER WAY. 



199 



the whole year, for it is doubtful if the people ever 
taste any other animal food than that which the sea 
provides. 

At 8 A.M. the thermometer stood at 86°. 

We caught a barracouta, one of the finny tribe pos- 
sessed with a taste for human flesh. The gratification 
of this passion on the part of some of the denizens 
of the deep must be considered as a right which the 




MOS(;I'ITO CAYO. 



principle of retaliation accords to them ; and it afi"ords 
another example of the close relations which draw one 
branch of the animal kingdom to the other ! All the 
way over the great shoal its bed could be seen shining 
silvery-white beneath the clear waves. 



200 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xi. 

Duriug the morning I was seized with a severe 
rhyming fit, which resulted in a doggerel description 
of our voyage. The captain watched me writing, 
and perhaps noted my "eye, in a fine frenzy rolling." 
Determining to have the verses well criticised on 
their first appearance, with the assistance of Napo- 
leon I supplied the skipper with a big cigar, and 
his favourite beverage, which made him feel thor- 
oughly comfortable, and put his mind in a condition 
eminently conducive to critical acumen. I then read 
my ode with as much as possible of what actors call 
business, being especially emphatic at certain points, 
where there were allusions to him and his little bark. 
I sat down exhausted, and the captain was enthusi- 
astic in his praises of the poem. 

"Good!" he exclaimed. "Very good! Tres-bon ! 
Mucho bueno ! Magnifique! Sehrgut!" 

I was satisfied, elated, and happy, but my opinion 
of his critical powers was considerably altered when 
he afterwards confessed that he had never heard any 
poetry before. 

In consequence, even my belief in Taylor's seaman- 
ship sufiered, though for the matter of that I never 
thought that captains had much to boast of. Their 
vocabulary is a very limited one, being almost 
confined to the words "port," "starboard," " lufif," 
and "steady." 

"LuflF" does not mean much without an impreca- 
tion tacked on to its tail. "Steady!" One likes to 
hear a captain giving this order to his sailors, and it 
is a pity they do not profit by advice so wise and so 



Chap, xi.] ISLAND OF EL GRAN ROQUE. 201 

pointedJy emjDbatic ; for although they are constantly 
responding " Ay, ay, sir ! " they are proverbially the 
most unsteady men in the ivorld. 

By noon we had beaten up to windward fifteen 
miles, and anchored off El Gran Eoque. To transfer 
ourselves and baggage from ship to shore occupied 
only half an hour. In one corner of Mr. Boye's ca4)in 
or hut a bed was extemporised, and in another a table. 
On the former I spread my rug, and on the latter 
unfolded my chemical testing apparatus. Boye's 
hospitality was unbounded ; he rendered me a most 
important service by placing four men at my disposal 
for the exploration of "the big rock." 

The island of El Gran Roque is only, from east 
to west, about two or two and a-half miles, and 
from north to south a quarter to half a mile. It is 
composed of hills, lagoons, and low flat salt-marshes 
covered with marine plants and brack -grass (Sporo- 
holus virginicus). Along the beach, at the eastern 
end, there are some mangrove trees. The scrubby 
species of red mangle [Rhizophora mangle) which 
grows here is useless as timber, but the bark, rich in 
tannic acid, is stripped for tanning purposes, and 
most of these trees have been denuded. Three hills 
extend three-quarters of the entire length of the 
island on its north side and west end. They are 
called Lighthouse Hill, Middle Hill, and Battery 
Hill, the last from a tradition that a battery was once 
placed there by the buccaneers, or Spaniards. There 
are no vestiges of the legendary cannon said to have 
been stationed on the hill ; it is more probable tliat 



202 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xi. 

some ships of war have availed themselves of the 
excellent shelter the harbour affords to use Battery 
Hill as a target or practising ground ; certain it is 
that cannon-balls have been found embedded on the 
south side. At its foot, a little aboA^e hitrh-water 
mark, and close to the sea, is El Poso, the sole avail- 
able well. No springs of fresh-water are to be found ; 
but in this place the rain-water, after percolating 
through the overhanging rocks, has found a resting 
place ; in the season of drought it is almost dried 
up. The water is bad and coloured, but the negroes 
drink it as a beverage, although its action upon white 
persons is medicinal. Water is generally brought 
from Bonaire or La Guayra, but by means of cisterns 
the rain-water might be collected ; the latter is the 
custom most prevalent in many other parts of the 
Antilles. 

In the afternoon I took, in order to get a general 
idea of the most striking characteristics of the island, 
w^liat may be termed a preliminary canter, and 
brought back with me a collection of minerals for 
rough testing as to quality. Evidences of the exist- 
ence of phosphates in abundance were to be encoun- 
tered on every side. 

Even this almost desert spot is not without its 
incidents, and Mr. Boy^, who has passed the greater 
part of his life on the Los Roques, and other neigh- 
bouring islands, has many stories to recount. He 
is engaged in erecting a lighthouse for the Vene- 
zuelan Government, and has to build a certain number 
of feet in height annually, and for this he receives the 



Chap, xi.] BOYE'S REGISTER OF WRECKS. 



203 



gross lighthouse clues collected on all ships entering 
the port of La Guayra. The summit of Lighthouse 
Hill, on which it is being erected, is 1 50 feet above 
sea level. The lighthouse itself will be 50 feet high, 
and should be visible from off all the islands of the 
Los Eoques group. 




L. C. BOYU. 



Having two or three small vessels constantly 
engaged in the salt trade, Boye voyages about from 
one island to the other. On one occasion, whilst at 
Cayo Grande, a cotton- laden ship ran on a reef, 
and she would have proved a total wreck had he not 



204 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xi. 

helped tlie cnptain to lighten her. Boyd's share of 
the salvaire amounted to a considerable sum, but 
thinking by the assistance given in saving the vessel 
and cargo that he ^vas at the same time helping the 
merchants of Caracas and La Guayra, he refrained 
from enforcing his claim. Naturally enough, his 
mortification and annoyance were great when he 
learned that his kindness and consideration were not 
appreciated. The cargo was fully covered by insur- 
ance, and the price of cotton had fallen ! It is pro- 
bable that the next ship which runs on shore, for any 
assistance she will receive from him, will have to stand 
on her own bottom. So he threatens ; but his natural 
unselfishness will lead him to do in the future as he 
has done in the past, in spite of ingratitude. 

Many are the lives Mr. Boy4 has saved of those 
thrown by storm and false currents upon these rocks 
and reefs. He is, from the number he has rescued, 
and from the unprofitable nature of his eff'orts, worthy, 
at least, of the medal of the Royal Humane Society. 

When the steamer " Estrella " was lost, he brought 
away thirty-two passengers and the crew, who had 
passed two days and nights on a sandbank without 
water. 

Another of Boye's anecdotes was about a vessel 
on which he did claim salvage. He had saved the 
greater part of the cargo, consisting, according to the 
captain's statement, of from thirty to forty kegs of 
copper nails. The rescuer agreed to take $ioo for his 
claim. Conceive of his chagrin when he afterwards 
learned at La Guayra that the kegs were full of bullion, 



Chap, xi.] 



A RAT BATTUE. 



205 



and that ^2000 was the amount of his share of the 
salvage. Boye affirms that his confidence in nail-kegs 
is fearfully shaken. 

On the chart these islands are marked dangerous. 
Captains are requested not to go close enough to 
prove the existence of the perilous shoals, but to take 
the* fact for granted that they are there. A tradition 




INTERIOR OF BOYe'S HOUSE. 



here tells of an entire fleet of men-of-war having run 
ashore on one of the reefs. 

At supper Boy(3 said we should have some sport. 
He called his negroes, who armed themselves with 
sticks and started off rat-hunting. Clear moonlight 
favoured the pursuers, the game being plainly dis- 



206 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xi. 

cernible on the flats. When a rat had been run 
down, a shout of triumph announced the success. It 
was a discordant sort of music, but in less than half 
an hour the battue ended, and the spoilers returned 
with the fruits of the slaughter, numbering in all forty- 
four dead rats. These rodents were very plentiful on 
El Gran Koque. They must have originated from 
some wreck, and their multiplication had become so 
excessive that in walking up and down there was the 
constant danger of treading upon them. As the soil 
of the island is thoroughly impregnated with salt, it 
might be very suitable for the cultivation of cocoa-nut 
trees ; but I am afraid the rats would play havoc with 
maize or any other cereal. Mr. Boye was so harassed 
by them, that he dispensed with the wooden floor of 
his cabin, in order to partially rid himself of the 
nuisance it engendered. They were ferocious to a 
degree, and easily killed cats. Several dogs had been 
j)oisoned by eating the dead bodies of slaughtered 
rats. The only cupboard secure against their destruc- 
tive intrusions was an iron safe, 

" Thrown from tlie rude sea's enraged and foaming mouth," 

a sad memento of some unfortunate ship wrecked 
upon these shores.* 

* Since my visit about a dozen cats have been imported, and this 
formidable army of grimalkins has routed and vanquished — even to 
annihilation — the rats, but in their turn have themselves become a pro- 
lific nuisance, so that now Mr. Boye is thinking of introducing dogs to 
devour the exterminating pussies. This history may some day give 
birth to a new nursery rhyme, like that about the old lady who had to 
get a fire to burn the stick, and the stick to beat the dog, and the dog 
to bite the pig, before she could get her porker home. 



Chap. xL] FORMATION OF EL GRAN ROQUE. 207 

The western part of El Gran Roque, particularly 
Battery Hill, is the most valuable and interesting. 
Here, from on board the "Venus," in the offing, I 
had noticed patches of green coloured rock, strongly 
indicative of extensive mineral deposits, and here 
it was also that phosphates were expected to be 
encountered. To these powerful outcrops may be 
attributed justly the origin of the report of the exist- 
ence of copper on the island. A continuous precipice 
forms the north side of Battery Hill, whilst its south 
side slopes down to the harbour or bay at a gently 
inclined angle. It was on the latter declivity that 
I found outcropping phosphates extending over the 
greater part of its surface. 

In regard to the formation, Dr. Ernst says that, 
" The great mass of the island overlies a very dark- 
coloured amphibolite rock. It crops out in many 
places, and is exceedingly hard. On Lighthouse Hill 
I noticed its transition into amphibolite slate. This 
amphibolite ground-work is covered by a rock 
which is either a diorite, or what German mineral- 
ogists call diabase or hyperstheine ; it is of a 
greyish-green colour and very hard, but cuts glass 
very little." 

On some of the flats I saw an earthy-looking sub- 
stance which is here called guano, but being free from 
ammoniacal salts, or any of the striking characteristics 
of Peruvian guano, it seemed valueless. It was poor 
in phosphoric acid, and rich in worthless matter. Its 
existence is probably due to the disintegration of the 
rocks above, containing phosphates of lime, alumina. 



208 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xi. 

and iron, the decaying vegetation supplying the small 
quantity of organic matter it contained. 
. Scabirds abound in the north part on the rocks 
facing the ocean, but there are only about three 
species — " the bird called alcatras by the Venezuelans 
(Pelicanus fuseus), the strandloper by the Curazao 
Dutchmen, and a species of mew." Dr. Ernst found 
hero a lively lizard of a breed previously unknown to 
naturalists. Dr. Peters, of Berlin, gave to the reptile 
a name longer and more euphonious than some Chris- 
tians can boast of, i.e., Cnemidophorus nigri-color. 

The flora is somewhat more extensive than the 
fauna, and numbers about twenty-seven species.* 

The next day I was at work by fits and starts ; the 
heat was too incessant to permit of continuous labour. 
At 10.15 A.M. the thermometer stood at 89° in the 
shade, by noon it had risen to 93°, and at i p.m. to 
95°. This violent heat is much more dangerous in 
a tropical country than even a much higher tempera- 
ture in a more northern latitude, probably owing to 
the fact of the former being usually accompanied by 
an excess of moisture.f It was almost impossible to 
00 out between eleven in the forenoon and three in 

o 

the afternoon, and I had suffered too much already 
from the excessive temperature not to dread courting 
its fury again. 

* List of Plants observed in Los Roques by Dr. A. Ernst, September 
1871. See Appendix B. 

t In some of the valleys at tbe foot of the western slope of the Sierra 
Nevadas of North America, at certain hours, and for days consecutively, 
the author has seen the thermometer stand at i io° in the shade, and the 
heat, being a dry one, was not considered dangerous or disagreeable. 



Chap, xi.] THE DANGER OF SUNSTROKE. 209 

Boye said, " You may have my men to go with you 
when and where you like ; but I will not accompany 
you on any of your excursions on the rock, except in 
the early morning and the cool of the evening. I 
know too well the danger of exposure, and if you are 
not careful, the same knowledge will come to you in 
the shape of a sunstroke." 

A thorough examination of the island with sketches 
and plans had to be made, then there was the excava- 
tion work on the deposits for the selection of samples, 
and only three clear days for the accomplishment of 
these tasks. I had, therefore, to make hay while the 
sun shone, but afterwards paid for my temerity. 

In the evening, Boyd got his sloop under way for 
a sail round the island. The difference between the 
south and north sides of El Gran Koque as seen from 
the sea is very striking ; the former, with its sloping 
hills and almost level plain, looked composed and 
tranquil, whilst the latter, with its long jagged cliff 
extending nearly the whole length of the island, and 
culminating in a grand sea-wall of nearly 200 feet 
high at its western extremity, appeared wildly grand 
and terrible. The never-ending wash of surge and 
tide on the northern foot of Battery Hill is slowly but 
surely sapping its foundations, and forming all along 
its lower reaches fantastic caves, which look like so 
many ragged wounds in the side of the giant precipice. 
Around and in them dashes the surf, with its ever- 
angry roar. We noticed what looked like phosphates 
on the face of the bluff, but could not approach near 
enough to determine their existence. For countless 

VOL. I. 



210 



THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xi. 



ages a portion of this rock has been the resort of wild 
sea-fowl, who have so lavishly displayed their indus- 
try upon the surface, as to prevent in a great measure 
the identification of its geological structure. 

In an odd angle of the isle, at the north-eastern 
corner, we were favoured with a grand sunset. The 




Sl'NSET FROM THE NORTH-EAST lOHNER OF EL (_.RAN ROQUE. 

glory that flooded the heavens was beauteous indeed, 
but, like all tropical sunsets, so evanescent in its 
character as to almost defy description. Whilst we 
were gazing at the new-born flush in the heavens, it 
had died away. 

The next morning (Wednesday), the heat was less 
intense, but I was too unwell to work much before 



Chap, xi.] EXPLORING THE ISLAND. 211 

evening. Lighthouse Hill was, however, carefully 
examined, and samples of its minerals obtained. Boye 
made me a very serviceable sketch-map of Los Roques, 
showing the principal islands and islets. The com- 
mercial value of the group is not great, for, with the 
exception of El Gran Roque, the islands appear to be 
destitute of phosphates. They are chiefly composed 
of coral, sand, and shells, with here and there salinas. 

By Thursday, some fifty sacks of minerals had been 
taken from different parts of the island, amply suffi- 
cient to afibrd data for an opinion as to its minera- 
logical character and the commercial value of the de- 
posits. [On my arrival in La Guayra, these were 
forwarded to England by the first steamer for more 
careful examination."^^'] 

On the morning of the day fixed for our departure, 
we had a strong gale, accompanied by copious showers, 
during which the barometer remained provokingly 
steady, making me think the instrument was not of 
much use in this locality — an opinion somewhat modi- 
fied before the day was out. The seventy-two hours 
I passed upon the island were the hottest I had known 
for a long time. After each excursion or dash into 
the open, I returned with a splitting headache, eased 
only by a copious supply of water poured on my 

* The analysis of forty-three sacks of mineral phosphates from El 
Gran Roque gave an average of 34.420 per cent, of phosphoric acid. The 
first cargo of 400 tons exported from the same place yielded 40 per cent. 
Work on the deposits has proved how extensive they are ; though some 
trouble has been encountered in the chemical treatment of the mineral 
profitably on a large scale. This is owing to the difficulty of separat- 
ing the phosphoric acid from the alumina and iron witli which it is in 
combination. 



212 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xi. 

head, and by frequent doses of brandy — external also. 
Nevertheless, I am told that the climate is dry and 
healthy, and there are only two months in the year of 
really excessive heat. 

There was much commotion in the camp as the 
hour of our departure drew nigh ; we were to sail in 
the afternoon. Not without some reluctance were the 
necessary preparations made for our embarkation, for 
I had formed a sort of fondness for the place, due 
greatly to the attention of our host, and I would 
gladly have prolonged my stay for another week had 
it been possible. Boy^ determined to accompany the 
** Venus " in his sloop, and challenged us to a race, 
but she was so loaded down with the cargo he was 
taking to Cayo Grande, that I thought he had little 
chance against our more lightly-ballasted schooner. 
With his negroes, goats, and water- barrels, he looked 
like a veritable Kobinson Crusoe removing. 

We started together, but he soon fell to the rear, 
dipped his ensign, and returned back, whilst we 
pursued our solitary course. At 4 p.m., with a tem- 
perature of 8 7°, and the sun perfectly obscured, a pro- 
found calm, the presage of a storm, stole suddenly upon 
us ; the barometer dropped, and with it our spirits, for 
we were in an ugly place. Lightning, thunder, rain, 
and strong gusts of wind followed each other faster and 
faster, and 'twixt the green sea and the azure vault 
was now "set roaring war." We were hemmed in 
by islands, reefs, rocks, and shoals, and really knew 
not where we were. The shadows fell so quickly upon 
us that, like Ajax, my prayer was for light. Loud 



Chap, xi.] A PASSING STORM. 213 

above the storm came peals of the skipper's polyglot 
curses as he wildly stalked the deck. With Gonzalo 
I might have said, " Now would I give a thousand 
furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground — The 
wills above be done ! but I would fain die a dry 
death." During the storm I glanced at my barometer 
and saw that it was gradually rising, and, on the 
strength of this favourable change, I promised the 
captain a fine evening if he would only keep afloat until 
nine o'clock. The wish was father to the thought. 
These little schooners never carry sextants, quadrants, 
or barometers. They have only a compass, which is 
generally two or three points from being correct. 
As if in honour of my prophetic foresight, at nine 
o'clock the lovely tropical moon shone forth, the 
clouds vanished, and we found ourselves alongside a 
cayo with a coral reef on which we were drifting, and 
we could hear 

" The sound of the trampling surf 
On the rocks and the hard sea-sand." 

It was touching to see how tenderly the captain 
fingered my little aneroid after that night. His 
Dutch blasphemy in the storm did not shock my 
moral sense as it would have done had it been 
English. Assuredly it was " a mast-high miracle ; " 
though the seas threatened they were merciful, he 
had cursed them without cause. 

Next morning we were under weigh very early, 
and at seven put into a little nook called Good 
Haven Key, where we bartered for fish, money not 



214 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xi. 

being essential. We gave provisions for shells and 
other native curiosities ; the people of these islands 
decline to take beads, broken glass, or Brummagem 
idols in exchange for their produce. Our course 
now lay for Boyd's salt island ; his sloop we saw far 
away to the east, coming over the great shoal. We 
did all possible to beat him into port, but failed ; 
and notwithstanding his turninoj back for the night 
to El Gran Roque, thanks to the shallow draught of 
his craft, he won the race. 

In the course of the morning we saw skimming 
along the water what appeared at a distance to be a 
very long fish — at least 20 feet. The captain said it 
was the sea-serpent ! I had never seen it before, and 
of course believed his statement implicitly, feeling as 
much entitled to behold this mysterious child of 
mother ocean as any other man ! 

We took on board at Cayo de Sal several turtles. 
They are sometimes caught there in a very curious 
manner. On a clear moonlight night, a boat is 
manned and pulled over the great shoal, in places 
considered likely. The water is so clear, and the 
bottom so white, that the dark body of the turtle 
is easily seen. When one is noticed it is chased 
until tired, and forced, from exhaustion, to rise to 
the surface and breathe, when capture becomes easy. 

On Saturday we anchored at La Guayra. 



CHAPTER XIL 

NATIONAL EDUCATION — CURRENCY — WORKING CLASSES. 

" Were half the power that fills the world with terror ; 
Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts, 
Given to redeem the human mind from error, 
There were no need for arsenals and forts." 

— Longfellow. 

After recovery from a species of sunstroke, brought 
on by exposure at El Gran Roque, my usual style 
of living at Caracas was resumed. There was plenty 
of pleasure, but few of its exciting incidents will 
bear chronicling. The civil war still dragged along, 
though in the capital we had to content ourselves 
with flying rumours, and such intelligence as was 
supplied by the daily newspapers. Meanwhile, the 
Government was not unmindful of the necessities of 
peace. 

At the end of August, to obviate the inconveniences 
arising from the mongrel currency of the republic, a 
decree was passed for the establishment of a mint in 
Ciudad-Bolivar. There was no national coinage in 
Venezuela, except that of some small copper pieces, 
and in consequence the currency was of a very mixed 
character ; the moneys of Great Britain, France, Spain, 
Colombia, Peru, Chili, Mexico, the Argentine Re- 



216 



THE LAND OF BOLIVAR., [Chap. xii. 



public, Bolivia, Brazil, the United States, Germany, 
Italy, Denmark, and Holland circulated, and were all 
legal tender. Fancy, then, the difficulty of getting 
change for a sovereign ! The natives of this country 
ought to have been well educated, for some of their 
commonest commercial transactions were accompanied 
by arithmetical difficulties enough to puzzle an English- 
man, and to drive a Frenchman accustomed to metrical 
simplicity to despair. Here is a statement of the con- 
stituent elements of the change for one pound sterling, 
equivalent to 5.200 venezolanos 6 fuertes (hard dollars), 
and it is by no means the worst case that might be 



presented :- 



I Spanish hard dollar 


. 




$1,075 


I English shilling . 




.250 


I Brazilian piece of 640 Reis, called a " Patacon ' 


•725 


I Twenty-five cent piece of the Ui 


lited States 




1853 . . . 




.270 


I English sixpenny piece 






.125 


I United States shilling . 






•095 


I Granadian dollar 






.800 


I Half a hard Spanish dollar . 






•537 


I German Vereinsthaler . 






•750 


I Peseta Columnaria (Spanish) 






.250 


I English threepenny piece 






.062 


5 Venezuelan copper coins 






.050 


I Peseta Sevillana (Spanish) . 






.200 


I English halfpenny (say) 






.011 



18 $5,200 

The bother of reckoning the change was too much ; 
the weight was my chief reliance, and expertness 
sufficient to arrive within a sixpence of what was 
in my hand followed the adoption of this plan. 



Chap, xii.] THE U. S. MINISTER. 217' 

Towards the middle of September, Caracas was 
visited by a tempest greater in intensity than had 
been known for years. It commenced about five 
o'clock in the evening, and lasted three hours ; thun- 
der and wind, accompanied by a violent fall of rain, 
speedily converted the streets into flowing torrents, 
which overturned all that came in their way. The 
quantity of rain that fell was registered by the plu- 
viameter as 2.834 inches, the greater part falling 
during the first hour. The damage done in the town 
amounted to $50,000. The floor of my rooms was a 
foot deep under water, but no loss ensued to me 
individually, though it cost my landlady new carpets. 

The end of the month saw quite a flutter in the 
society of the capital, consequent upon the arrival of 
the new United States minister. The Hon, W. A. 
Pile " hailed " from the " Far West," and had seen 
much rough service in the civil war. At the beginning 
of the strife between North and South he enlisted, as 
a volunteer under the Union flag, fought with Lyon 
and Halleck, and remained in active service until the 
conclusion of the war, when he had obtained the 
grade of major-general. After some experience in 
Congress, he was aj)pointed Governor of New Mexico, 
but was recalled to be sent out to Venezuela, there to 
represent the majesty of the North American nation. 
I found him to be a shrewd, sensible man, though he 
did not seem " to take" with the natives. He pushed 
republican simplicity to the extent of coming on cer- 
tain occasions to the dining-table at the hotel destitute 
of waistcoat, collar, or necktie ; the Venezuelans, who 



218 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xii. 

are proverbially decorous, looked horrified. Don 
Eamoii Paez has some trenchant remarks on the 
diplomats sent out by the " Model Eepublic : " — 

" It is a fact that while Europe, situated as it is far beyoud our 
own hemisphere, has always sent her very best men to represent her 
in the South American States, and to explore and report upon every- 
thing worth knowing, this country, America par excellence, has sent 
none as yet but broken-down and quarrelsome politicians, who, 
according to the statements of some of the leading periodicals of this 
country, are absolutely incompeteilt to fill their post with credit to 
the nation they represent. To my own personal knowledge I can 
testify as to the class of men sent afloat to Venezuela, one of whom 
had previously been master of a tug-boat on the Orinoco and Apure 
rivers, but through political influence at home was suddenly enabled 
to emerge from that obscure though honourable calling to that of a 
diplomatic functionary, although it is but fair to state that his social 
status in that country was in no wise improved by his change of 
vocation. When his term of office expired, with the change of 
administration at headquarters, he was duly replaced by another, 
whose conduct was so disgraceful that his countrymen resident in 
the Republic petitioned the Government at home to remove him 
forthwith, which was granted, but only to replace him by another — 
since deceased — who, I am informed, was the only drunken man 
seen in the streets of the capital." * 

Some days after my return to Cardcas, I called upon 
the President, who had been ill, but was then looking 
much better. He asked my opinion of the islands. 

In reply, I told him that my examination of the 
Los Koques group had established the fact of the 
existence of phosphates on one of them, and, in con- 
sequence, I was fully prepared to make a definite 
proposition for a lease or concession. 

He then informed me that he was obliged to put 

* Travels and Adventures in South and Central America. By Don 
Ramon Paez. 



Chap, xii.] THE PRESIDENTS ADVICE. 219 



in force the decree forming the islands into a terri- 
tory, and to have them thoroughly examined by a 
scientific commission.'"' The interests of the country 
demanded that they should not be disposed of before 
their value had been clearly ascertained. The expedi- 
tion would set forth in a few days, and when he had 
received its report he would be prepared to act. 

After some further conversation, he said : "Patience 
is a quality I have always admired in Englishmen ; 
they know how to labour and to wait, and I trust you 
will therefore exert the national virtue." 

"Those who begin by having patience," I answered, 
"often lose it. I came to Venezuela without possess- 
ing any, but am rapidly acquiring a stock." 

The President, to show that there was no cause for 
despair on my part, promised to have the Barcelona 
concession completed at once. 

On asking him if I should leave the republic, he 
replied : " No ! Consider the Barcelona grant as an 
evidence that we are willing to do what we can in 
your favour when the time comes." 

This interview was encouraging, and satisfied me 
that I should secure the desired concession of the 
islands by a prolonged stay in the republic. 

In October, the first primary school was opened, 
under the regulations of the law which had decreed 
national and compulsory education. The new school 
was in the Calle de Comercio. The saloon was a 
large parallelogram with two broad doors opening on 

* Appendix M is a translation of the decree forming the islands of 
the Republic of Venezuela into the territory of Colon. 



220 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xii. 



the street. A portrait of the President in oils adorned 
the farthest end of the room, whilst banners of 
different nations were suspended between pictures of 
the alphabet ; and, as if to show that Venezuela was 
now resolved to go a-head, the letter L was typified 
by a locomotive ! The opening proceedings included 
speeches by Dr. M. J. Sanavria, Senor A. L. Guzman, 
and others ; after which Dr. Domingo Quintero, the 
head of the Church in Venezuela, consecrated the 
place, by sprinkling holy water upon it. This cere- 
mony, to Protestant ideas, has often a trace of the 
ridiculous, but it was performed in a very impressive 
manner, followed by military music, and a succession 
of fireworks in the street ; which rejoicings further 
testified that all were joining in celebrating the new 
era dawning upon the people of the republic. 
Ignorance is the stronghold of tyranny, and an 
educated population will not readily fall a prey either 
to anarchy or oligarchy. I heartily joined in the 
wish that the young plant on which the venerable 
priest had just scattered agua hendita might grow 
into a goodly tree, bearing all the fruits and flowers 
of our more northern civilization. By an almost 
universal movement, the meeting seemed ready to 
throw itself at the feet of its reverend pastor. 

In the same month, when dining with Mr. Middle- 
ton, I met Captain Howard and some of the officers 
of H.M.S. "Racoon." It was a pleasure to see with 
what zest they entered into the life of the capital 
during the few days of their stay. It became my 
duty to introduce the mariners to some of the places 



Chap, xii.] MARINERS ON SHORE. 221 

of interest ; although the scenery was very fine, they 
appeared to take more interest in the beauties visible 
at the concurrencia on the Plaza. My position was 
somewhat embarrassing, for, after introducing them 
to several of the belles, I had to act as interpreter ; 
but as this was slow work for all concerned, I advised 
them to address the ladies in all the languages they 
knew anything of till they found means of communi- 
cation more expeditious than that of a medium. 

The following morning, after Captain Howard and 
his officers had breakfasted with me, we mounted mules 
and took the old Dos Aguadas road to La Guayra, a 
simple mountain path, at its summit about 6000 feet 
above sea level. The cavalcade attracted no little 
attention ; the peculiar horsemanship of some of the 
equestrians, the display of unbridled hilarity by 
others, and the tout ensemble of all the navigators in 
their grotesque English-fashioned tropical costumes, 
intended for ease and not for elegance, united to form 
an exhibition of such a character as was seldom wit- 
nessed in the streets of Caracas. 

The way was rough and disagreeable ; in places the 
track was obliterated from the effects of mountain 
torrents, and it was a difficult matter, when the course 
led down steep gullies, to keep from slipping off over 
the heads of the mules. Nevertheless, in the changing 
scenery and profusion of woodland, there was ample 
compensation for the drawbacks that had to be endured. 

One of the duties incumbent on a traveller in 
Venezuela is to perform this journey over the coast 
range, at least once during his residence; many. 



222 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xii. 

however, prefer to take this shorter route, though 
only a bridle-path, to La Guayra, instead of the 
usual carriage road. Near the summit there were 
many habitations, and not a few conucos, with land 
cultivated on a small scale around each of them. On 
the north side, trees seemingly piled upon trees, and 
rocks above rocks, covered with verdant life, formed 
together solid walls of vegetation. From some of the 
branches drooped down the wonderfully graceful 
vejuga or natural rope, whilst others were loaded 
with bunches and clusters of lovely orchidaceous para- 
sites, so rare and beautiful, that an English botanist 
would gladly have risked his neck to possess them. 

Towards the end of the month I gave a dinner, at 
which many members of the diplomatic corps were 
present. It was followed by an exhibition of my 
collection of drawings of Venezuelan scenery. The 
decoration of the room was a novelty there at least, 
for it was literally turned into a conservatory, filled 
with plants which were covered with bloom. 

Several curious stories were related of a former 

English minister, the Hon. Mr. B , a man of 

kindly heart but somewhat eccentric disposition. 
One was concerning a chronic feud which he had with 
General M , who at length challenged him to a duel. 

" I shall decline," said the Hon. Mr. B , " for 

I should be sure to kill him, and existence in Vene- 
zuela would be unendurable without his enmity, which 
is the only thing there is here to give a zest to life." 

Another trait of his character was kindness to 
animals. He could not bear to witness the sufFerino^s 



Chap, xii.] DINNER ANECDOTES. 223 

of dumb creatures, and it became a favourite device 
with those who wanted to get rid of a poor old donkey 
to commence maltreating it when he was within sight. 
The minister's collection of asses was a very extensive 
one, though none of them would have taken a prize 
at an agricultural show. 

One of the subjects of conversation was the slanders 
circulated respecting Venezuela abroad. Europeans go 
to Cardcas, and send word to their wives and families 
that there are " tigers running about the streets, boa 
constrictors to be seen in every house ! and deadly 
rattlesnakes frequently found coiled up in the beds 1 " 
when the truth is that the foreigners themselves (some- 
times of the Corps Diplomatique) have not been invul- 
nerable to the seductive graces of the Cardcanian 
ladies ! 

Captain C was describing the mode of life 

upon a wreck. To have lived on it twenty-three days 
he esteemed a great feat. " This is nothing," said a 
well-known hon vivant of the capital, who had ruined 
himself by good fellowship ; "I have been living for 
these ten years upon the wreck of myself ! " 

The lower orders of Venezuela are noted for their 
honesty. The following stories in proof of this were 
told the same evening : — 

Though it was well-known in Card-cas that a sum of 
$60,000 was coming up by coach from La Guayra, its 
only escort was the agent of the house to whom it had 
been consigned. The following day twenty-five quin- 
tales of gunpowder were brought into the capital by the 
same route, but they required a guard of fifty soldiers ! 



224 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xii. 

A Mexican, who came to La Guayra with some 
twenty to thirty thousand dollars in bullion, bustled 
off, full of importance, to seek the governor of the 
port, in order to obtain a " conducta.'' The governor 
thought he ought to have brought his "behaviour" 
with him, but the monied man explained that he 
wanted a military convoy to ensure the safe delivery 
of his treasure in Caracas. " Why, how many millions 
have you brought ? " asked the official. On learning 
that it was not more than $30,000, he lifted his hand 
and beckoned. The guard to preserve the money 
from the brigands appeared in the shape of an old 
negro and a couple of aged donkeys, who traversed 
the solitary mountain-path in the night, and lodged it 
safely at the posada early in the following morning. 

Another anecdote, exemplifying the same admirable 
trait, relates to an event which happened at the 
famous copper mines of Aroa. The silver for the 
wages of the labourers was brought in boxes on the 
backs of donkeys. A driver, on one occasion, was 
minus one of his asses, and, still more important, of 
two of the boxes of specie also. He was accused of 
robbery, but protested his innocence, and several 
years later it was clearly established. One of the 
peones of the mines stumbled across the bleaching 
bones of the errant donkey. Near them lay the 
boxes of coin, which he immediately took to the 
superintendent, in place of keeping them as a piece of 
good fortune intended for himself ! 

The working people are light-hearted, sober, and 
industrious, fond of employing their leisure in dancing 



Chap, xii.] THE FEAST OF THE DEAD. 225 

and music, and of the latter they are passionately- 
fond ; they crowd to the opera, and after the perform- 
ance of a new piece, they can generally play from 
memory a good deal of it upon their native instru- 
ments, and that too with tolerable accuracy. 

The ist of November was the Feast of the Dead. 
There were processions through the streets, principally 
along the Calle de Carabobo, and twenty thousand 
persons are estimated to have taken part in this 
festival. A string of carriages, horsemen, and pedes- 
trians wound through the town all afternoon. The 
cemetery called Los Hijos de Dios (The Sons of God), 
lying north of the capital on an elevated plateau of 
the foot hills of the coast range, was gaily decorated. 
Garlands and crowns of flowers gave it a brilliant 
appearance, little in consonance with the sorrowful 
associations commonly attached to the last resting- 
place of mortality. Although not the universal, the 
chief method of sepulture in Venezuela is one quite 
unknown in England. The bodies are not, so to 
speak, buried, but remain above ground. Around the 
inside of the high cemetery walls are built narrow 
arched niches, each large enough to hold a coffin, and 
at right angles with the wall these range one above the 
other in tiers, like shelves or pigeon-holes. When the 
last tenement of humanity has been placed in one of 
the cavities, the entrance is closed up with a memorial 
tablet, or other monumental device. Among the 
crowds threading their way between the tombs, 
cypresses, and broken columns, there were some 
whose eyes were wet with tears for their lost loved 

VOL. I. p 



226 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xii. 

ones, but many were smiling with pleasure and good 
humour, and the most perfect decorum prevailed. 
There is an elevating grandeur and poetry in the con- 
ception of the Fiesta de los Muertos, which appeal to 
the best feelings of our nature. As we lay the immor- 
telles upon the tombs of those who have gone where 
the wi^cked cease from troubling, and the weary are at 
rest, the love we symbolise might teach us concord 
and charity in our relations with those who are left 
behind. 

A strange fashion obtains in obituary notices of 
giving the name of the medical man who attended 
the deceased. The equivocal phrase stating the fact 
may be exemplified by the following : — " Dia 7. 
Candelaria. — Nicolasa Arrechedera, adulta, conges- 
tion cerebral. Asistida por el Dr. F. Soto. Murio 
deciento veintiocho anos (i 28)." '"' Surely at the ripe 
age of 128 years the old lady w^ould not need much 
"assistance" in leaving a world of which she must 
have been heartily tired. 

* La Opinion Nacional, Nov. 8, 1871. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

EXCURSION TO THE VALLEYS OF THE TUY. 



PART I. 

DISTRICT OF CHARALLAVE. 

" Out on the city's hum ! 
My spirit would flee from the haunts of men, 
To where the woodland and leafy glen 
Are eloquently dumb." 

— WiNSLOW. 

At the end of November I made a visit to the 
valleys of the Tuy. This excursion had been long 
planned, but from various causes continually deferred. 
In June of the same year, having decided to leave 
Card,cas for that district, I sent my servant for a 
passport, but he found all the public offices closed, as 
it was the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. Considering 
how much Christianity is indebted to these valiant 
soldiers of the cross, it appears somewhat ungrateful 
to divide a fiesta between them, whilst many an 
inferior, second, or even third-rate saint has a day all 
to himself. However, as they did not complain, it 
may be assumed that all persons interested were 
satisfied with the arrangement. 

At length, five months later, the long anticipated 
morninsf dawned when we were to set out on our 



228 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xiii. 

excursion to the interior. We were to start betimes, 
and accordingly Lisboa, an early riser, who was to 
make one of the party, roused me from peaceful 
slumber at four. Mounted on his own horse, and I 
on a stiff fat little mule (lent for the trip by Senor 
Emilio Yanes, who had it brought for the purpose 
from one of his estates in the Mariches Coffee Dis- 
trict), we proceeded to the house of Mr. Leseur to 
pick him up, and then commenced our journey. 

The native traveller to the interior, in the matter 
of provisions, usually takes with him a stock of queso 
de manos (hand-made cheese), Indian-corn cakes, 
aguardiente, and papelon — a sort of crude coarse 
brown sugar, formed into cones hard and portable, and 
in quality closely akin to that made from the juice 
of the maple-tree. AVe added some other items, but 
these are considered sufficiently life-sustaining, and 
are luxurious when contrasted with the Spartan store 
of dried apples carried by the Californian on a long 
journey. When he rises from his blanket in the 
morning, he makes a plentiful breakfast of dried 
apples : he journeys on until mid-day, and, at some 
running stream, takes an extensive luncheon of water ; 
by evening the action of this in expanding the fruit 
provides him without further cost or trouble with a 
dinner. 

The early morning was cool and cloudy, and the 
sun, which was expected over the eastern hills of 
Barlovento, failed to appear. It was not until some 
time after that we had an opportunity of watching his 
rise, an event more written about in prose and verse 



Chap, xiii.] ON OUR WAY TO THE TUY. 229 



than known by actual experience. This may seem 
an odd statement to make, but certainly the sight of 
a sunrise, from its rarity, forms an epoch in the lives 
of many men. 

We soon forded the river Guaire, over which 
there is a wooden bridge for pedestrians, and passed 
through the Cortado de Eincon into the little plain 
between the two ridges of hills which separate Card,- 
cas from El Valle. Here we met, on its way to the 
capital, a long string of loaded donkeys — a Venezuelan 
goods' train in motion — carrying charcoal, firewood, 
sugar, sugar-cane, aguardiente^ poles, cotton, cofiee, 
fowls, pigs, &c., and attended by hardy harrier os 
with the unfailing machete in their hands, and the 
inevitable dgarro in their mouths. Leaving the 
large sugar estate of Espino on our left, we changed 
our course towards the south-west, and soon entered 
the straggling village of El Valle, once famous for its 
pleasure lake, where the good folk of Caracas came on 
boating excursions, but now, from overgrowth of 
vegetation, in great disorder, and furnishing another 
evidence of the disastrous effects of civil war. 

At the Cuartel, our passports were examined and 
vised. Most of the official buildings of its character 
are under saintly patronage, and an inscription on a 
board against its wall read — 

" Patrona de esta casa 
Nuestra SeSora del Soccora." 

Whether " Our Lady of Succour " ever visited her 
house we did not learn. The conversation of soldiers 



230 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xiii. 

would scarcely Lave yielded her much edification if 
she had. They were hungry-looking, free-spoken, 
good-hearted fellows of mixed origin, who did not 
object to receive a slight memento of our visit. 

We now passed down between lines of sugar 
plantations. One on the left, the property of Senor 
Carlos Madriz, was the scene of an important event 
in Venezuelan history. Coche is considered to be one 
of the finest sugar plantations in the country, and it 
was here that, on the 2 2d of May 1863, General Paez 
abdicated in favour of Falcon, by which act power 
passed from the Blue to the Yellow party. At length 
we arrived at the little valley of Turmerito, where 
there was a very respectable inn, and proceeded on- 
wards to the defile in the mountains leading to the 
Tuy. The ascent now began, and we passed Lechoso, 
a sugar estate 175 feet above Caracas. At Subera 
there was a crowd of people round a stretcher, on 
which lay a poor fellow whose arm had been shat- 
tered whilst blasting for the new road. Peace has 
her victories no less than war, and they are not 
always unattended by lists of killed and wounded. 

Some distance up the canon was a place bear- 
ing two names, and called indiscriminately Campo 
Alegre (Jolly Camp), and Gato Amarillo (Yellow 
Cat). Whether it was the yellow cat which made 
the camp gay, or the gay camp that made the cat 
yellow with debauchery, or what possible connection 
could exist between two such dissimilar appellations, 
it was impossible to imagine. Certainly the yellow 
cat had shown good taste in the selection of a place of 



Chap, xiii.] THE WELL OF THE BLRDS. 



231 



abode, for the village was a pretty little settlement. 
The new road is well constructed, and has an easy 
gradient ; there are several deep cuttings and fine 
bridges ; one of the latter, 400 feet above Caracas, 
is called the Puente de Falcon (Bridge of Falcon), in 
honour of the President, during whose rule this part 




I'lJZn DE LOS PAJAROS. 



of the road was commenced. The bridge consists of 
a strong single arch, built of stone, and placed in a 
most picturesque situation. 

Higher up the road there is another l)ridge over 
the river Encantado, near the beautiful cascade known 



232 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xiii. 

as the " Pozo de los Pajaros " (Well of the Birds), 
which is remarkable for its loveliness and singularity. 
The water falls over a great, broad, umbrella-shaped 
mass of white limestone, under which the birds have 
built their nests, and may be seen flitting about 
amidst the spray of the falling water. We were 
told of a still more lovely miniature cataract of this 
description on the same stream, nearer its source, but 
had not time to visit it. 

The road to the Bridge of Falcon was the work of 
the Yellow party, from thence to Guayabo it was 
constructed by the Blues, the remaining part to 
Charallave being completed by the Yellows, who are 
thus its alpha and omega. The first stage coach had 
gone down this carriage road to the south a fortnight 
earlier, and passed rejoicing to the valleys of the Tuy. 

The name of the river changed with almost every 
village. One struck us as being sonorous ; but it was 
impossible to ascertain whether its origin was Spanish 
or Indian, and as it combined the two qualities so much 
esteemed in this world of sounding well and meaning 
nothing, we continued to speak of the river up to its 
source by the euphonious and mysterious name of 
Tucusiapon.^' After the picturesque village of Tucu- 
siapon came La Calera, where there was a small lime- 
burning establishment ; and then the road, keeping 
alongside of the river, continued to ascend until it 
reached the Cortado de Guayabo, its highest point, 
1 1 37 feet above Cardcas, and 4250 feet above the 
level of the sea. 

* Cutuciapon is another name given to this river. 



Chap, xiii.] A NATIONAL DISH. 233 

The Vuelta de Macarisao, on which is Senor Carlos 
Lovera's cofifee plantation of Guayabo, sloped away to 
our left, whilst on our right, hill after hill, in undulat- 
ing succession, stretched out until in the far distance 
they joined the Tuy valley, bounded on the horizon 
by higher ranges separating it from the llanos. The 
road now commenced to descend to Charallave, wind- 
ing around and through the estate of Lovera, until it 
became lost to sight in the mountains. The house of 
this gentleman, at which we had alighted, stands on 
a hillside, surrounded by tall trees, whose foliage 
aflforded a most welcome shade after the sun-exposed 
ride of the morning. Senor Lovera was a Spaniard 
who had resided long in the republic, and, by personal 
attention to the management of his estate, had pros- 
pered in spite of the war. 

The long jog-trot journey had given us that degree 
of fatigue and hunger which is said to be the best sauce 
for food, but people with less craving than we would 
have been tempted by the rich and ample fare pro- 
vided by our benign host. The 'piece de resistance 
was the national dish of the republic — San cocho de 
gallina.^^ What the haggis is to the Scotchman, what 
potatoes are to the Irishman, what roast beef is to the 
the Englishman, that, and much more, is this soup or 
broth to the Venezuelan! Saint Cocho is the most 
popular saint in the calendar, and if the distribution 
of fiestas depended upon a plebiscite, they would all 
be assigned to him. Of all the saints who jostle 

* The name comes from the verb salcocher, to cook anything almost 
half-raw and without seasouins;. 



234 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. 



each other about in the republic, he is the one to 
whom most of my attention was paid, and my devo- 
tions were always rewarded. If any enterprising 
gourmand chooses to experiment upon this dish, he 
will find in the following a qualitative analysis of its 
composition, and as some of the ingredients are not 
well known in this country, the Latin equivalents 
have' been added : — 

Gallina. 

Name (Discorea alata). 

Apio de Espaua {Aimim graveolens). 

Yuca {Yatrojjha manihot). 

Alverjas {Lathyrus sativus). 

Auyama {Gucurhita maxima). 

Tomates (Solanum licopersiaim) . 

Onoto {Bixa orellana). 

Oregano (Origanum major anoides). 

The Vuelta de Macarisao is about nine miles long 
and three wide, and has upon it 500,000 coffee-trees, 
young and old, in about twenty plantations, leased to 
various individuals but all owned by Senor Lovera. 
The hacienda of Guayabo, the largest of these, and 
managed by the proprietor himself, contains 1 20,000 
fruit-bearing trees, and he estimated the then existing 
crop of coffee at 1 000 quintales. 

Accompanied by our worthy host, we left his 
interesting hacienda, and, proceeding on our way 
through a rough and hilly country abounding in 
pleasing landscapes, in two hours reached the Cortado 
de Totumo, from whence we obtained our first full 
view into the grand valley of the Tuy. It lay before 
us in all its beauty, the everlasting hills rising from 
it in an endless succession of varying peaks and 



Chap, xiii.] A SLEEPY TOWN. 235 



declivities, whilst at their feet the peaceful vales 
sloped away in all directions till they finally dis- 
appeared in the river Tuy. Another hour and a 
half brought us to Bigote, a little village of not 
more than fifty inhabitants, where there is very fine 
pasturage in the season, when the gamelote grass 
grows to the height of seven feet. After passing 
several cofi'ee plantations, we came at sun-down to 
the town of Charallave. 

It was one of those towns which cannot make up 
their minds to accept frankly the spirit of the age. 
An old-world air seemed to cling to it, and the eye 
sought in vain for evidences of progress and modern 
comfort. The place consisted of about a hundred 
miserably-built houses, holding a thousand unfortu- 
nate individuals. Charallave is rather warm, and not 
very healthy, the water being of a bad quality. At 
the posada all we could get for supper were beans, 
beans, beans ! — and these lukewarm. 

The next morning we devoted to a reconnoitre of 
the town and its vicinity. The large cofiee planta- 
tion of Monte Verde, that had been abandoned, was 
the first object which presented itself. Formerly 
it produced about 1500 quintales of cofi'ee yearly, 
but now yields none, although the land could not be 
more suitable for this staple. A small portion of the 
estate was, however, in a state of good cultivation. 
It was farmed by Jose Antonio Bug, not of the 
"Norfolk-Howard" branch, but a German, who had 
planted it with vegetables, wherewith he helped to 
supply his neighbours and the market at Cardcas. 



236 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xiii. 

He had also fruit-trees in abundance, principally 
oranges, and his experiments in tobacco culture had 
not failed. He showed me some of the tobacco, 
grown from Habana seed. Regular importations of 
this seed have to be made, as the plant does not 
possess sufficient stamina for successful propagation. 
Another plantation exhibited most of the faults of 
bad farming : the shade was too thick, the ground 
not thoroughly cleared of weeds, and the general 
treatment of the coffee-berry conducted in a some- 
what slovenly way. Steam-power was employed in 
preparing the berry for market, but not to the greatest 
advantage, it being only used for a small portion of 
the work instead of performing the greater part 
thereof; in fact, very little appeared to have been 
done scientifically, and the estate, instead of pro- 
ducing only 400 quintales, might easily have been 
made to produce three times that quantity. 

The new carriage-way, although in places rather 
narrow, was a very good one, and made travelling 
in this district a pleasure. The journey can now 
be accomplished over a well-constructed, easy-graded 
road, instead of as formerly by steep, rough, country 
trails, over hill and dale. This should have some 
effect in improving Charallave, as it stands on the 
main route to Cardcas, and cannot remain with a 
good carriage-road through it in a helplessly som- 
nolent condition. There were thirteen coffee estates 
in this district, producing in the aggregate only 2460 
quintales of coffee. There were also two properties 
producing a trifling quantity of papelon. 



Chap, xiii.] THE GRAND VALLEY OF THE TUY. 237 

After lounging about all morning, we mounted 
and proceeded towards Cua, the chief city of the 
plain, which, with Charallave and Ocumare, form 
a triangle. It was proposed to carry on the new road 
to the former place, as it had become the mercantile 
centre of the greater part of the Tuy, although, prac- 
tically considered, Ocumare would have proved of the 
two the most eligible site, from its advantageous 
position in the heart of the valley, and on the direct 
line of travel to the llano country. 

Mr. Leseur was one of the Junta de Caminos or 
Committee of Koads ; and the road engineer, who 
had joined us at Guayabo, now submitted a plan 
of the intended route for his approval. On our 
way we met many of the peasantry, amongst whom 
much excitement was caused by the appearance of 
Lovera's carriage, which had accompanied us to the 
terminus of the road. The novel spectacle was greeted 
with smiles of pleasure as a good omen for the future. 
The vehicle had an historical interest in the district, 
having been the first driven along the new road. 
The present occasion was its second visit. 

We were now in the grand valley of the Tuy, which 
extends from east to west for about fifty miles, 
and varies in width from two to ten miles. It lies 
in wave-like tracts of land, here and there forminor 
water-courses that feed the river. The greater part 
of the surface was covered with tall gamelote grass, 
at that season of the year dry and coarse. The 
slightly elevated flats and slopes were dotted with 
conucos — little farms where the peasantry cultivated 



238 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xiii. 

maize, yuca., and other com,estihles. These little hold- 
ings were scattered about, and mingled in the land- 
scape with the coffee plantations' rich woodlands, whose 
high trees gave shade and coolness to the valley. 

In many places there were cultivated patches of 
achiote trees, an industry less attended to than in 
former years. Achiote or onoto [Bixa orellana) is a 
tree which grows to the height of ten to fifteen feet, 
and flowers twice a year. The fruit is a capsule en- 
closing many seeds, with a fleshy covering of red- 
dish-yellow. It is gathered at full maturity for the 
purpose of extracting the colouring matter, which is 
easily dissolved in any oleaginous substance. In this 
manner it is used by the Indians in ornamenting their 
bodies, and is supposed by them to be a protection 
against the bites of insects. 

The old process for extracting this colouring matter 
was lengthy and imperfect. Leblond devised a better 
method ; after maceration and washing, a weak acid 
is added to the water, already charged with the 
colouring matter. As it is not easily dissolved, either 
in water or in acid, the effect is to precipitate the 
matter, separating it quite distinctly from the clear 
liquid. Analyses have shown that there are really 
two colouring principles in this fruit, one red (bixina) 
and the other yellow {orellana). Orellana is soluble in 
water and in alcohol, but only slightly so in ether. 
Bixina is not easily dissolved in water, but is easily 
soluble in alcohol and ether, whilst sulphuric acid 
gives to it a blue colour, changing to green and 
afterwards to violet. 



Chap, xiii.] A GENEROUS GOVERNMENT. 239 

Acliiote is used for dying textile fabrics ; for com- 
municating the rosy tint to be seen in some cheeses ; 
for colouring wood; and when carefully divested of 
all oily matter, is made to give a tint to paper, fresh 
colours to skins, and a bright hue to the national 
soup ! The colouring matter of onoto is unfortunately 
wanting in permanency. 

About three leagues from Charallave we reached 
Cua, the largest town in the valley, and found Leseur's 
name a passport there, as it was in every other part 
of Venezuela. As he had business in Cua, we 
remained two days ; Lisboa and I passed most of 
the time visiting some of the neighbouring estates, 
where every one was busily engaged in reaping the 
annual coffee crop. 

It is not an uncommon thing, when there is a re- 
volution in the republic, for a military chief to pop 
down on an estate, and run away with, and make 
soldiers of, all the labourers employed thereon. Stock 
and produce are also appropriated, but apparently in a 
more legitimate way. An officer of the Government 
waits upon the proprietor of an estate to ask the price 
or value of certain desirable property he sees upon it. 
A sum being named, the owner is then informed that 
his property is required for military purposes ; and to 
show how liberal the Government is, the officer forth- 
with hands the unwilling vendor an order on the 
National Treasury for double its value, and then walks 
off with his purchase. Not until the revolution is 
over are these kind of orders ever paid, and then only 
at a discount of from 95 to 97I per cent. ! 



240 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xiiL 

On one occasion an Englishman in the Tuy, who 
owned a fine donkey, refused to part with it for 
worthless Government paper, and he informed the 
man of war who coveted the quadruped, that he 
claimed the protection of the British flag. 

" Your flag," said the officer in reply, " will protect 
you, because you are an Englishman ; but your donkey 
is a Venezuelan i^'pero su burro de listed es Venezolano)^ 
and I will take him ! " 

As a matter of policy as well as of duty, we paid 
our respects to the Military Chief of the Depart- 
ment, General Espejo, who received us with dignified 
courtesy and attention. I having admired a Manuare 
hat which he was wearing, he took it off" and insisted 
that I should accept it as a present. Not wishing to 
wound the feelings of the civil and generous donor, 
whose hat was really a very handsome one, I assented ! 

In Venezuela the traveller must be guarded in his 
expressions of praise, or the natural civility of the 
people will endow him with possessions sometimes of 
an embarrassing nature. 

I was expressing my admiration of a pretty little 
child, and addressing the lady who had her in charge, 
I asked : 

" Is this your daughter, Senora ? " 

To which she replied : " Si, Senor, y de listed 
tamhien." ("Yes, Sir; and yours also.") 

This, although the common form of complimentary 
reply, sounded strange ; and it gave me quite a paternal 
feeling to find an unknown daughter in the valley of 
the Tuy, where I had never previously set foot ! 



CHAPTER XIV. 

EXCURSION TO THE VALLEYS OF THE TUY, 



PART II. 

DISTRICTS OF CUA, OCUMARE, AND TACATA. 

" That thee is sent receive in buxomnesse, 
The wrastling of this world asketh a fall, 
Here is no home, here is but wildemesse, 
Forth, pilgrime ! forth, beast, out of thy stall ! 
Looke up on high, and thauke God of all ! " 

— Chaucer. 

Cqa is an active little town, having quite a different 
aspect from Charallave, and the harvest time added 
to its busy appearance. The Latin races are very 
fond of garlic in their food ; whilst sharing the liking 
with them, it seemed to me possible to have too much 
even of garlic ; and I thought it carrying things 
a little too far when the tea was flavoured with it I 
The hotel, — kept by a German, in whom the inborn 
affection for sauerkraut had been displaced by a deeper 
love for the pungent ajo, — was low built, and very 
hot, as elaborate precautions seemed to have been 
taken to prevent the free circulation of air. The style 
of architecture might have been suitable in Germany, 
but was not calculated to meet the requirements of 
the travelling public in the Tuy. 

VOL. I. Q 



242 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap xiv. 

The dinner was a variation upon beef. Beef soup, 
boiled beef, roast beef, jerked beef, beef chops, beef- 
steaks, beef tongue, beef brains, beef-steak pie, and 
beef cutlets fried in beef tallow, the one following at 
the heels of the other in rapid and uninterrupted 
sequence, until the Indian girl, our waitress, began to 
remind us of the ox-eyed Juno. For days Lisboa was 
not able to look any cattle in the face without blushing, 
after such slaughter amongst their scanty numbers. 

We inspected the coffee and cacdo estate of Dr. 
Nicanor Guardia, situated on the banks of the Tuy. 
Under the able management by Senor Tomas Guardia, 
a practical agriculturist, it was a pattern of neatness 
and order. The produce of coffee was not very larg^, 
chief attention having been given to that portion of 
the property devoted to the cultivation of cacdo, 
which was in magnificent condition, and formed one 
of the sights of the valley. On the grounds were 
also to be seen the ruins of tanks and buildings, for- 
merly used for the manufacture of indigo from the 
anil plant. This industry was introduced in 1798, 
and there was a steady increase in the produce, so 
that at the end of twenty years not less than one 
million pounds were annually exported. Then the 
quantity diminished. According to the official returns, 
only 65,623 lbs. left the country in i860, and 
72,112 lbs. in 1865. The State of Bolivar has 
great capacities for the production of this plant, and 
for a time the Anil de Cardcas held a high position 
in the commercial world, but adulteration, and still 
more, the abandonment of indin^o cultivation for other 



Chap, xiv.] INDIGO CUITIVATION. 243 



species of agriculture, have had their eflfect in erasing 
that name. The phmt grows at all heights, but at 
about 1 800 yards above the sea it loses its colourino- 
principle. The lower the level and the higher the 
temperature the better the anil thrives. About 
seventy of the plants in flower are required to pro- 
duce a pound of indigo. With a better system of 
cultivation the republic could produce indigo of ex- 
cellent quality, and in great profusion. It has not 
been so far undertaken in a scientific manner, the 
planters having been content with very rude methods 
of working, and as a necessary result the produce has 
been of a very inferior description."^^ 

The district of Cua contained thirty-eight estates ; 
twenty-seven of these were devoted to coffee, and 
produced annually an aggregate of 8300 quin tales, 
with a money value of $ 1 66,000 ; six were cacdo plan- 
tations, producing 1000 quintales ; two^ one of coffee 
and one of cacao, were abandoned ; and the remain- 
ing three estates yielded sugar. 

On our way from Cua to Ocumare, by a wide traffic- 
beaten trail (for road-making was only in its infancy 
in the Tuy), we passed vast pasture lands of rich 
gamelote grass, but it was only as we neared a 
settlement that a few cows were visible. The cattle 
on a thousand hills did not need much counting or 
care-taking, yet stock-breeding would bring untold 
wealth to the people. The valleys of the Tuy are so 
near the coast that they could easily supply the West 

* There is a paper by Dr. F. do P. Acosta on this topic in the Var- 
gasia, No. 4, 1868. 



244 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xiv. 

Indian markets. If those who go to breed cattle in 
Buenos Ayres, where no market exists, were to settle 
in the State of Bolivar, ther6 would soon be a strik- 
ing change in the aspect of the country. 

On the road we came upon a house devoted to com- 
merce in a variety of branches. The owner of Za Teja, 
besides his avocation of bar-keeper, was a butcher, and 
retailer of the multifarious objects proper to a country 
store. Meat and drink he could supply in plenty, 
and also many of the odds and ends required for the 
simple luxuries of the surrounding rural population. 
About the doors were grotesque groups of what have 
been termed " his poor relations," some of them it is 
hoped very distant ones. 

After passing several coffee plantations we crossed 
the creek which runs down from Charallave, and falls 
into the Tuy near the estate of General Pedro Conde.* 
The general, who was a man of much influence in 
the district, invited us to inspect his hacienda, where 
we saw the process of preparing the coffee for ship- 
ment. Before the revolution 700 quintales yearly had 
been gathered here, but the annual quantity reaped 
during the last few years had fallen to 300 quintales. 
In collecting information concerning the produce of 
coffee on various estates, it became manifest that there 
was no uniformity between the number of shrubs and 

* General Conde has since died of heart disease. It is remarkable 
what a number of well-known men in the republic have been carried 
off by that dread destroyer. It would seem as though the chronic 
revolution which has affected the country had influenced detrimentally 
the nervous system also, and predisposed those who have passed 
through its anxieties to this disease, which was formerly unknown in 
Venezuela. 



Chap, xiv.] QUESO DE MANOS. 245 

the quantity of coffee obtained. On well-managed pro- 
perties the yield is one pound of coffee per shrub, but 
the aim of many planters appeared to be to possess 
the maximum number of shrubs instead of securing 
the maximum return from each of them. 

• At General Conde's we witnessed the operation of 
making the delicious cheese known as queso de manos : 
when the milk has been curded it is boiled in the 
whey until it is in a semi-solid state, resembling 
dough of moderate firmness. With the hands it is 
then pulled into laminae, and when it becomes cold 
is made, with the addition of a little salt, into cakes ; 
these are hung up aloft in some exceedingly porous 
fabric for the superfluous moisture to run off", when 
they are ready for the table. 

From Cua to Ocumare we were accompanied by 
Senor Fabricio Conde and General Olavarria. They 
had recently returned from an expedition to the 
banks of the Orinoco to purchase herds of cattle, and 
were now preparing for another journey of the same 
kind. Their glowing descriptions of the ride across 
the terrible llanos filled Lisboa and me with a 
desperate desire to accompany them."^'' We were told 
of an estate on the llanos covering 1 80 square leagues, 
with about 50,000 cattle upon it, and 10,000 mules 
and horses — all wild. This property, in time of peace, 
would yield a profit of $100,000 annually, and yet it 
was now off"ered for bond fide sale at twelve months' 
purchase. So much for civil war and its results ! 

* " The everlasting pasture llanos of Venezuela are more certain 
dividers of unity than an angry Atlantic ocean." — Humboldt. 



246 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xiv. 

We arrived at Ocumare, and stayed during the 
nisfht at the mercantile establishment of one of 
Leseur's agents, Sefior Medialdea. A dormitory was 
improvised by placing a series of rude stretchers 
(catres) side by side. Very little covering was needed, 
the heat being just as much as humanity could bear. 
The beds, however, were far from comfortable, as the 
canvas did not yield to the form, but was perfectly 
rigid, and there was great danger all the time of the 
pillow falling off at the top and inducing asphyxia. 
It was a resting-place fit for Cato the severe, or St. 
Laurence the broiled martyr. As our bedroom was 
used as a warehouse and reception-room in the day- 
time, we had to turn out early ; nevertheless one of 
the party managed to steal eleven hours of rest, and 
tried hard for the round dozen, but was unsuccess- 
ful, as the people came in crowds to look at the 
unheard-of spectacle of a man who could sleep in bed 
at eight o'clock in the morning. 

Ocumare is a pleasantly-situated little town of 
4000 inhabitants. It stands almost in the centre 
of the valley, surrounded by trees, with the Tuy 
winding round about it. There was, of course, besides 
the Plaza and the market, that indispensable adjunct 
to religion and picturesque landscape, an old church. 
From the different styles of architecture displayed in 
the construction of the Iglesia Madre de Ocumare, 
and from the varying shades of dilapidation it now 
shows, it might reasonably be inferred that this 
sacred edifice was built by degrees and at three dis- 
tinct epochs of Venezuelan history, embraced within a 



Chap, xiv.] LESEUR'S COFFEE PLANTATIONS. 247 



period of three hundred years. Altogether there 
was an air of self-respect about the borough, which 
all the inflictions of long years of cruel civil war had 
failed to uproot. 

We invited the military and civil chiefs of the 
district, and some other local magnates, to accom- 
pany us for a 'paseo in the mountains. After slight 
refreshment, we started, a goodly cavalcade, for 
Leseur's hacienda of Lower Marare, which lies in 
the valley. We arrived at an old plantation of 
coflee-trees, with very fine works for the preparation 
of the berry, the estate itself extending back into the 
mountains for two leagues. Another cofiee planta- 
tion on the same property, with a small sugar- work, 
called Upper Marare, has been established 650 
feet above the valley, and two miles distant from 
the old works, to which the berry is brought on the 
backs of donkeys for treatment, there being no plant 
yet erected for its preparation on the spot. On this 
upland farm whither we went, we found men, women, 
and children, busily engaged cofiee-picking. Great 
care and dexterity is required in this operation to 
prevent the destruction of the trees and the loss of the 
berry ; two stripped by Lisboa and me gave each 
equivalent to three pounds of cleaned coffee, but 
these were exceptionally fine specimens and weighed 
down with fruit, the average yield on the estate 
being about one pound per tree, whilst on poor 
and badly-managed properties half a pound is only 
obtainable. 

The plantation on the hill. Upper Marare, has 



248 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xiv. 

been created by the system known as arendetario ; 
a plan by which the landlord gives up the use of 
his land for four or five years to a person who 
undertakes to plant upon it a certain number of 
trees, for each of which he is paid a sum varying 
from threepence to sixpence. During the period 
mentioned, the occupant, from the fruits of his in- 
dustry in the cultivation of other products than 
coflfee, derives a good livelihood, and at its conclu- 
sion places the owner of the land in possession of 
a fruit-bearing cofifee plantation, for which he re- 
ceives in payment the sum agreed upon. 

I was often requested to purchase an estate in 
the Tuy, in fact was promised the gift of one if 
I would settle down there. The people in the valley 
had felt the war severely ; peace was anxiously 
desired by all except those in arms, and as it was 
well known that my influence would be on the side 
of peace, many were desirous of seeing me as a 
neighbour. Everywhere there were signs of better 
times coming, even the military men were looking out 
for farms, and would probably soon again become 
absorbed into the mass of the tranquil, hard-working 
population. For a young man in search of fortune 
there are few places better than the valleys of the 
Tuy in the neighbourhood of Ocumare. 

The district of Ocumare del Tuy contained forty 
estates ; twenty-eight of these were under coffee, the 
produce amounted to 6792 quintales, which at $20 
per quintal, meant an annual value of $134,840. 
The average produce (242 quintales) from each 



Chap, xiv.] ROADS AND COFFEE ESTATES. 249 

estate, was not quite so large as that of Cua. Eleven 
properties had fallen out of cultivation, two of them 
with coffee haciendas, three with sugar-cane, and 
one with cacao. There was one estate where sugar 
and aguardiente were largely produced. 

Nearly all the coffee estates have hill and valley 
lands, but when they are sold the value of the planted 
part is alone taken into account, and the unplanted, 
although sometimes really the more desirable of the 
two, is, as it were, thrown in to complete the bargain. 
The greater portion of the estates have vast pastures 
attached, and in no case are the properties cultivated 
up to anything like their full capacity. 

We returned from Harare to Ocumare, but left 
again late in the afternoon for Cua, where, with 
hard riding, we arrived at sunset, and after dinner, 
at our old posada, paid a ten hours' visit to the 
land of sleep. Our next object was to reach Alta- 
gracia. AVe were told that the distance from Cua was 
twenty-five 'to thirty miles via Tacata, but ten miles 
shorter if we took a bee-line track across the moun- 
tains, thereby saving one side of a triangle in the 
distance to be gone over. As we wished to see for 
ourselves what were the facilities for communication 
and transport, we decided, although the road was both 
dangerous and difficult, to follow the course of the 
Tuy and its effluent stream the river Tacata, which 
rises in Altagracia. 

After leaving Cua, there were few signs of agricul- 
ture visible. Here and there we passed small coffee 
plantations, and at Mapurito, which is situated a short 



250 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xiv. 

distance from the mouth of a creek running into the 
Tuy, we came upon a hato (cattle station) with the 
largest head of stock I had yet seen — it numbered, at 
least, one hundred. Buena Vista, near by, stood on 
a little wooded knoll, and was rightly named, for the 
view from it was one to hold and charm the wander- 
ing eye. With this exception, there was nothing 
remarkably striking in the landscape between Cua 
and Tacata, which we gladly sighted after a four 
hours' hard ride. The valley had now narrowed, and 
the river had become very tortuous in its course ; to 
avoid encountering its numerous windings along and 
across the valley, its bed sometimes even reaching to 
the foot of a bluff over which we were travelling, a 
bridle path had been cut in the hillside, and by it we 
pursued our way to the town. 

Tacata is prettily situated on the forks of the rivers 
Tuy and Tacata, from which rises a steep range of 
mountains, at whose feet is the settlement, whilst a 
hundred feet below, the two rivers join. We expected 
to find good accommodation, and at first sight we 
thought our lines had fallen in pleasant places, 
but alas ! we were terribly disappointed ; language 
fails to express the poverty which was manifested on 
every side. The town contained about fifty houses, 
and the only one having the least pretence to comfort 
was that of his reverence the Padre. 

The office of the Jefe Civil, to which we directed 
our steps, appeared to be a half-converted stable. A 
portentous desk filled the centre of the room, and was 
flanked by two chairs evidently not relations ; grillos 



Chap, xiv.] AN INTELLIGENT MULE. 251 

(handcufifs), old saddles, and papers, were scattered 
about in systematic confusion ; these, and myriads of 
cobwebs, completed tbe furniture. The Jefe Civil 
was absent, but we were received by his deputy, and 
from him we managed to get some maize for our 








animals, which were hot, jaded, and hungry. The 
conversation between the deputy and Leseur, who had 
penetrated into this den, led me to suspect that we 
were in the midst of a desert, and to make sure of 
somethinof to eat I took a handful of maize from the 
scanty allowance made to my mule, but the intelli- 
gent quadruped looked bitterly dissatisfied, and 
seemed to direct my attention to Lisboa's horse. 



252 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xiv. 

which had evidently got the lion's share. The dumb 
pleading was irresistible, the handful of maize was 
dropped, and the mule restored to happiness. The 
deputy thought we might be able to obtain food at 
the shop opposite his office, but ice were now firmly 
convinced that only a miracle, or two, could enable 
Tacata to appease the hunger which possessed us. 

We crossed the way and entered a low-roofed room, 
whose mud walls, innocent of whitewash, bore a triple 
row of shelves, destitute even of the riches of the 
Mantua apothecary — a beggarly account of empty 
boxes. Whilst waiting for the proprietor, we had a 
bitter dispute as to the value of the articles dis- 
played, and, on averaging our estimates, came to the 
conclusion that the stock of the chief merchant of 
Tacata was worth just eighteen shillings and eleven 
pence three farthings ! As the merchant is always the 
capitalist in Venezuela, the wealth of Tacata may 
be determined from this valuation. The only 
remedio to be had in the place was some so-called 
vino bianco, light in its powers of affecting the system, 
but dark and heavy in its appearance. Leseur and 
Lisboa tried this medicine, but as they found the 
"remedy" worse than any disease they possessed, 
I passed the bottles without a pang of regret. 

Treading our way through this grim cavern, we 
entered the sala, which looked still more melancholy, 
and sat there with depressed spirits whilst the break- 
fast was preparing. The colour of the table did not 
show dirt, and we would gladly have dispensed with 
a cloth, but our hostess, anxious to do us every 



Chap, xiv.] A DREAD BANQUET. 253 



honour, produced a piece of textile fabric which had 
evidently been brought over by one of the Spanish 
conquistador es, and had therefore been regarded as a 
relic too precious to be profaned by soap and water. 
Lisboa took this table-cloth to heart ; I did not, as it 
was too dirty ! Whilst the lady of the house was out 
of the room he dragged it off the table, but on her 
return she would not allow us to dispense with it. 

Although hunger is not fastidious, it was with 
noses upturned that we ate the black beans and 
salted beef which were sparingly set before us. There 
was no impiety in omitting to say grace over this 
meal, which we took with a mental reservation. 

" Bid me to lurk 

Where serpents are ; chain me with roaring bears ; 
Or shut me nightly in a charnel-house 
O'er-covered quite with dead men's rattling bones, 
With reeky shanks, and yellow chapless skulls ; " 

but ask me not to encounter again the dread realities 
of a Tacata banquet. I crossed the road, thinking to 
finish my repast with a handful of maize, but our 
animals had eaten every grain, and we found them 
munching their empty boxes as a gentle hint that 
they had not yet had enough. 

We were now ready to leave, and handed our land- 
lord a sovereign. 

He looked at it with a puzzled air, fingered it as 
though it were a curiosity, and intense gloom settled 
upon his features. 

He could not change it 1 

We advised him to try his neighbours in the town. 



254 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xiv. 

A comic smile lighted up the darkness of his visage, 
and he went out on the desperate quest. 

Before we could obtain our change a general meet- 
ing of the villagers had to be held, but the capitalists 
of the place were unable to make up the amount until 
the priest consented to supply the deficiency from the 
poor-box, and the sovereign was solemnly entrusted 
to his charge until such time as the transaction could 
be liquidated. 

Tlie Deputy-chief accompanied us to Altagracia, so 
the multitudinous municipal affairs of Tacata were 
left for a time without a regulator. At 1 1 a.m. we, 
not reluctantly, took our departure, going southward 
up a narrow mountain gorge, the road crossing the 
stream with every bend of the river. Few conucos 
and still fewer cofi"ee plantations were passed; La 
Vega, which yielded only 1 50 quintales, produced 800 
in the good old times, and another which formerly 
gave 1000 quintales returned but twenty I Miserable 
as these ruined plantations looked, they were not 
only welcome to us as emblems of a smouldering in- 
dustry that might yet with peace burst into flame, but 
also, from the delightful shade they afforded, doubly 
pleasant in contrast with the unprotected nature of the 
other portions of our way. Several streams now 
entered the Tacata, and the valley opened out, but 
soon contracted again where the river formed rapids 
and falls. As we advanced, the ascent became difficult 
and disagreeable ; the trail lay along dangerous hilly 
slopes, said to be frequented by pumas, and with grass 
sometimes seven to eight feet high. Our animals 



Chap, xiv.] ALTAGRACIA. 255 

were almost dead beat, though we did a great portion 
of the journey on foot. 

Leaving the trail on our left, and striking off in an 
oblique direction over an uncommonly steep hill, we 
emerged on the estate of Altagracia, which, with that 
of Guari adjoining, forms a vast natural amphitheatre, 
whose rolling lands well watered, and high mountains 
densely timbered, would afford ample field for the 
enterprise and industry of 20,000 emigrants. The 
lands are rich beyond description, and the climate 
comparatively cool and decidedly agreeable. On the 
highest mountain slopes it might be possible to grow 
the cereals of the temperate zone. The mansion of 
Altagracia, 2600 feet above the sea, was situated in one 
of the most eligible parts of the property, from whicli 
varied and extensive landscapes were to be seen. 
Here we met a German engaged in setting out coffee 
plants on land leased to him by Senor Luis Eivero, 
the proprietor of Altagracia, who was very desirous of 
settling a band of colonists on his estate, and wished 
Leseur and me to co-operate in his plan. Notwith- 
standing the fertility of the soil and the delightful 
climate, the out-of-the-way situation, and the want of 
carriage road communication, will prove, for some time 
to come, a bar to the success of the scheme. We 
stayed at Altagracia all night, and passed most of the 
evening very agreeably, listening to the German's 
anecdotes of the tigers, pumas, and snakes, with whicli 
the surrounding hills are inhabited. 

About seven in the morning, after a night's sleep 
in hammocks, we left Altagracia for Tacata, and 



256 



THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xiv. 



reached it at midday, but our animals refused to stop, 
and hurried us off to the mountain pass leading from 
the valley. There were four coffee estates in the vicinity 
of Tacata, producing in the aggregate 1 140 quintales; 
four others we found abandoned. There were two 



suo^ar cstates- 



-one producing and the other deserted. 




SIOIANS PI.AYlXii NATIVF. INSTIUM KNTS. 



Owing to its situation on the most direct route from 
the valleys of Aragua to the Tuy valleys, Tacata has 
suffered greatly from the raids of both sides. From 
the heights of Tique, 3200 feet, we turned again to 
jxaze on the beautiful scene wc were leavino-; and then 



Chap, xiv.] THE END OF THE JOURNEY. 257 

lookiiifT forward we beheld ranore after ransje of mouu- 
tains, culminating in Nais^uata. 

We quartered at Paracoto, and filled up the evening 
by exploring the neighbourhood. It is the centre of 
a large cultivated district, and consists of a mono- 
tonous succession of fine cofi"ee-growing slopes. The 
village has a pretty little church, with its peal of 
bells outside. In our rambles w^e came to a house, 
where we stopped to hear a band playing, the music 
and instruments being native born. At night we 
slept soundly, although our dormitory was the mis- 
cellaneous store-room of a general merchant, rich in 
perfume. 

Next morning we left early, struck the Charallave 
road at the Cortado de Totumo, and, riding up to the 
estate of our good friend Lovera, we found ourselves 
once more in the embrace of civilization. We felt as 
Christian may have done at the sight of the heavenly 
city, when, as our journey drew to a close, we beheld 
shining in the valley below us tlie lights of Caracas. 



VOL. I. 



CHAPTER XV. 

CIVIL WAR — MISSIONARY EFFORTS — ORCHIDS. 

" Slow wakes the voice of war — but, when it wakes, 
It comes upon the ear as the loud wail 
Of murdered spirits, or the shriek which breaks 
From shipwrecked sea-boy, borne on rising gale, 
When in his watery shroud he sinks below 
The corpse-strewed confines of the stormy wave." 

Anonymous. 

When I arrived in Venezuela, the Liberal party was 
in power, but its sway was not undisputed. The 
Blues were scotched, not killed, and from time to time 
one heard of the difficulties they were causing. The 
disaffection of Salazar gave rise to the incident of the 
Noche cle San Bernardino, in May, but this proved 
a fruitless attempt against the Government.* In the 
State of Trujillo, under the leadership of General Juan 
Aranjo, the Blues rose in great force. Guayana had 
proclaimed its neutrality in the struggle, although it 
was said to be from thence that the Blues had obtained 
the means for their descent upon Trujillo. In August 
they took possession of the capital of Guayana. The 

* This incident consisted in General Salazar one night withdrawing 
tlie troops under his command from Valencia, contraiy to the orders of 
the President. It is said to liave been his first overt act of treachery to 
the Liberal party. 



Chap. XV.] RISING OF THE BLUES. 259 

President, General Juan Dalla-Costa, was wounded in 
the fight, and sought refuge in Trinidad. Tlie troops 
of the Cordillera, under the command of General 
Pulgar, after three days' fighting, restored Trujillo to 
the Liberal party. Meanwhile, from Ciudad-Bolivar 
the insurgents sent an expedition to Apure ; San Fer- 
nando del Apure, which was very thinly garrisoned, 
was attacked, and after a desperate defence fell into 
their hands. The Jefedel Estado, Dr. Lisandro Diaz, 
was killed, whilst unarmed, it is said, by a pistol 
sliot from General Olivo. 

This was at the end of October, and about a fort- 
night later the President left Cardcas, at the head of 
his troops, to undertake the campaign in Guayana and 
Apure. Those who like myself witnessed the depar- 
ture of the army knew that it meant work. Never 
had a force so numerous and so well equipped left the 
capital Without any noise the troops had been pro- 
vided with all that was necessary for carrying out the 
plan of operations. 

At Villa de Cura they were joined by General 
Alcantara with two thousand five hundred men ; at 
Calabozo by contingents from General Joaquin Crespo 
and General Borrego ; at Camaguan, by the forces 
uf General Colino ; and the entire body marched 
against San Fernando. At this place, the Blues had 
concentrated all their forces, under the joint command 
of Herrera and El Chingo Olivo,* and it became a 

* General Olivo acquired this nickname from an accident that had 
deprived him of the most striking feature of the human face divine. 
Chingo is a word not to be found in the dictionary, allliough it is com- 
monly used in Venezuela to denote a noseless jierson. 



260 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xv. 

question of strategy no less than of valour how to 
enable the army of Guzman Blanco to force the pass 
of the river A pure. 

The plan decided upon by the President was to 
charge down upon Guariapo by the two banks of the 
Portugueza ; and from the Faso Real of San Fernando 
to the farthest part of the Apurito. Whilst the Blues 
were defending themselves on this long-extended line 
of attack, General Crespo was executing a flank 
movement by which the forces under his command 
were enabled to ford the river at the Cano Amarillo. 
Whilst the Blues, therefore, were expecting their 
opponents to be decimated in forcing the river at the 
Paso Real, and were being beguiled by a feigned 
attack upon the Cano de Guariapo, the flank move- 
ment across the Caiio Amarillo, which decided the 
fortune of the day, had been executed. The Blues, 
unable to cope, either in numbers or strategy, with 
the army of Guzman, became quickly disorganized, 
and, abandoning their trenches and positions, fell 
back upon San Fernando. 

The battle of the Apure may be said to have occu- 
pied seven days. On the first of January 1872, the 
forces under Crespo had already commenced an 
artillery attack upon the trenches at the mouth of the 
Guariapo. In this they were joined later, in front of 
the enemy, on the western side of the Portugueza, by 
the division of General Machado. On the second and 
third day, this attack was continued, whilst the 
margins of the Cano Amarillo were carefully explored 
to find a suitable fording place. On the fourth day, 



Chap. XV.] THE BATTLE OF THE APURE. 261 

the Paso Real was occupied by General Pulido ; and 
from this position an effective fire was directed 
against the trenches opposite. On the fifth day, the 
President advanced up to the Boca de Cople ; and 
the Blues from San Fernando opened an occasional 
fire upon his party. At ii a.m., he returned to his 
camp near the Boca de Guariapo. At dusk, began 
the difiicult task of transferring troops to the western 
banks of the Portugueza, which occupied nearly all 
the night. The President crossed about 8 p.m. At 
2 A.M., on the morning of the sixth day, a vigorous 
fire was opened upon the Paso Real of the Apure. 
In another hour and a-half, the President learned that 
Crespo had successfully passed the Cano Amarillo. 
At the same moment, further to distract the atten- 
tion of the Blues, General Ribas, by a strategetical 
feint, had threatened a bold attack upon the banks 
of the Cano de Guariapo. On receiving word that 
Crespo was safely across, Guzman with his forces 
followed, and at lo a.m. commenced the march upon 
San Fernando. Early in the afternoon, they were in 
sight of the flying enemy, and the troops of Guarico 
were despatched in pursuit, but were unable to over- 
take the Blues, who by forced marches made for 
San Fernando. When the soldiers of Guzman arrived 
at that place, they found that their opponents had 
abandoned it ; a complete panic had taken possession 
of the Blues, and they were in full flight, bearing with 
them, in hammocks, two of their leaders, Herrera and 
Manzano, dangerously wounded. The town had 
suffered greatly, and many parts of it were to be seen 



262 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xv. 

in ruins. On the seventh day, the fugitive army 
was pursued by General Crespo with two thousand 
men detached for that purpose. He pressed down 
upon the flying mass until the broad Arauca, swarm- 
ing with alligators, was before them. There was no 
escape on either side. The Blues made desperate 
resistance to the last, but it was in vain — five hours' 
combat ended in their annihilation as an army. Not 
less than three hundred of them are supposed to have 
been driven into the torrent of the river, and there 
drowned — devoured ! Amongst them was El Cliingo, 
their dreaded chief. The prisoners who fell into the 
hands of Crespo were above three hundred in number. 
The whole of the artillery and ammunition of the 
army of Olivo were also captured. 

It was said in jest, that Crespo was anxious 
to convert El Chingo to his own water-drinking 
habits, for the valiant Llanero of GumHco was dis- 
tinguished from the majority of his fellow-citizens 
by his entire abstinence from alcohol, and also from 
tobacco. 

The desultory doings of my life in Caracas have 
again to be chronicled. 

During my excursion to the Tuy I was bitten in 
the instep of my left foot by some venomous crea- 
ture, and in consequence became a prisoner to my 
rooms for a fortnight. To a person of active habits 
this was particularly annoying; the awkward position 
of the poisoned wound hindered the inflammation 
from subsiding, as the slightest motion of the foot 
made it worse. 



Chap. XV.] VENEZUELAN ORCHIDS. 263 

We had still occasional reminders that civil war 
was in the land. At times the reg'iilations regardine: 
passports were extremely stringent, though, in my 
own case, they were not productive of any personal 
inconvenience. Perhaps the pacific foreigner was 
favoured ; for instance, one night when there was a 
grand ball at El Paraiso, the mayor, Dr. F. Ponce, 
called upon me with a special permit. 

It has already been mentioned that I had commenced 
collecting all kinds of objects, illustrating the physical 
aspects and capabilities of the rej)ublic. My museum 
soon became one of the lions of the place, as it con- 
tained a large number of artistic, scientific, and eco- 
nomic specimens. I went upon the inclusive system, 
and one of my special objects was to obtain choice 
and rare specimens of the orchidacece, interesting from 
their grotesque forms, exquisite colours, and perfumes, 
and from their curious resemblances to animal life. 
Surely Mother Nature was in a jocose mood when she 
created these floral bees, doves, swans, and parrots. 
Many specimens were sent over to England, and some- 
times the courtyard of my hotel was littered with them. 
Perhaps the most interesting of the orchids was the 
Flor de Mayo (Cattleya Mossice), and special col- 
lectors were despatched into the interior to secure the 
finest specimens of this and other species. But the 
most wonderful was a Mariposa bejuca [Oncidiiim 
Bauerii), containing not less than 700 flowers, which 
was presented by Senor Carlos Lovera, who sent 
it from his cofiee estate at Guayabo. 
The number of Venezuelan orchids known already 



204 



THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. 



[Chap. 



ill the botanical world is 426, distributed in 81 
genera; but Dr. Ernst is of opinion, that, as so 
much of the country remains still unexplored by the 
scientific botanist, 600 would probably represent the 
total. Many of these are, of course, interesting only 
to the phytologist, but a large number present attrac- 




SHIPPIXr, ORCHIDS FROM THE HOTEL, S^AINT AMAND 

tions to all who can appreciate beauty and variety of 
form. Dr. Ernst has very obligingly communicated 
the valuable list of Venezuelan orchids, which will be 
found in the Appendix.^' From the richness of this 

• List of all the known species of Venezuelan orchids, by Dr. 
Ernst. See Appendix G. 



Chap. XV.] AN UNGRATEFUL TIGER. 265 

part of the flora, his alphabetical catalogue, with its 
full and accurate references, forms an important addi- 
tion to the literature of this subject. 

Amongst my tiger skins was one of special curi- 
osity, as having been the price paid for the house and 
furniture of a well-known character in Venezuelan 
history. At the taking of San Fernando, the house 
belonging to El Chingo Olivo fell to the lot of an 
officer who vainly sought a purchaser for his prize. 
At last he bartered it all away for a single tiger skin 
— a magnificent specimen, certainly — which shortly 
afterwards came into my possession. It was placed 
along with similar portions of other South American 
beasts of prey. 

The jaguar is indeed quite common in the Apure. 
It is told that an old woman had a tame one which 
followed her about like a pet lamb. After a while she 
became poor, and unable to obtain food enough for 
herself and her strange companion. The jaguar, in 
coming in contact with civilization, had acquired the 
tastes of humanity, and when the daily meal failed, he 
ate up his benefactress, with a selfishness and ingrati- 
tude worthy of a human being. The Pharisees, we are 
told, made long prayers and devoured widows' houses, 
but the jaguar preyed upon the widow herself. 

The birds were about 350 in number, and included 
examples of 250 distinct species. Some of these were 
rare varieties, as, for example, Coccyzus landshergi, 
Micrastur zonothorax, Ardea herodias, Porzana lev- 
raudi, &c. ; and two were of absolutely new (unde- 



2G6 



THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xv. 



scribed) species, i.e., Lochmias sororia, Crypturiis 
cerviniventris. '^ 

As my object became known, many additions were 
made to my collection. The Venezuelans bitterly 




LOCHMIAS .sOUOKI.l 



resent the conduct of some former travellers, who, 
after accepting their hospitality, held them up to 
ridicule, t but they are grateful to any foreigner who 
expresses a sincere interest in their country. 

Most museums have something apocryphal. Though 

• A paper by Dr. P. L. Sclater, F.R.S.,and Mr. O.sbert Salvin. M.A., 
on some Venezuelan birds collected by the author, was read before the 
Zoological Society, on the 20th May 1873, and printed in its Transac- 
tions, from whence it is copied in Appendix C. 

t " Notwithstanding the beauty, fertility, and richness of the country, 
the healthy habits of its people, the morality and culture of its society ; 



Chap. XV.] 



MY MUSEUM. 



26^ 



my assemblage was incomplete iuasmiicli as it did- 
not include the " broomstick of the witch of En-dor," 
or even that most ubiquitous of all primitive weapons, 
the identical club which killed Captain Cook, it 




CRYPTURl'S CEUVIMIVENTRIS. 



received an equally authentic and valuable relic of 

despite the accumulation of favourable circumstances wliich induce 
strangers who come to look for happiness and fortune, to settle ; rarely 
do they take upon themselves the task of helpin<^ along and encourag- 
ing her condition. There are some, though fortunately few, who have 
gone so far as to falsify her character before their own countrymen, by 
having severely criticised her healthy customs, and burlesqued her 
hospitality ; thus, drawing ridicule upon her, solely for the miserable 
reward of a few guineas, producing a book more or less spirited, in 
which they have imputed to her the barbarities of Hottentots and the 
extravagances of Don Quixote." — N.B.P., La Opinion Nacional, 30th 
Dcceml)er 1871. 



268 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xv. 

•the Spanish conquist adores. On the morning of 
a breakfast party in my rooms, General N. Bolet 
Peraza came in, and with a few strokes of the pen 
converted an old table filling up the centre of the 
apartment into a sacred relic, by labelling it with a 
ticket on which he wrote : — "The table used by Don 
Diego de Losada, at the banquet on the foundation of 
Caracas, in 1567, — Antiqaiiies of Caracas, hy A. 
Rojas^ This precious memento was greatly admired, 
and excited much patriotic sentiment, whilst we, 
who were in the secret, enjoyed the joke very much. 

Perhaps the most popular part of the collection was 
"My Book," which became a source of great amuse- 
ment to visitors. It w^as a dumpy folio, which served 
the purpose of scrap-book, album, and liber amicorum 
at the same time. It contained paintings of butter- 
flies and orchids, autographs, caricatures of public 
men, views of various places, visiting cards, speci- 
mens of paper money, original literary productions 
in prose and verse, and odds and ends of every kind. 
This book was always lying about, and hardly a day 
passed without receiving additions to it. 

From Senorita Loria Brion I acquired a handsome 
carved totuma (drinking bowl), which evinced her 
artistic skill and taste. She was the daughter of 
Admiral Brion, one of the most distinguished of the 
sea-warriors who aided Bolivar. Her father died 
whilst fighting in the cause of independence ; and the 
Liberator, when at Puerto- Cabello in 1827, is said 
to have thus addressed the daughter who had been 
left, as it were, a legacy to his country: — " Fobrecita! 



Chap. XV.] NATIONAL INGRATITUDE. 269 

tu 'padre ha muerto por la pati'ia, pero yo le reem- 
plazase y otra serd la suerte de sufamilia d mi regreso 
de Santa Marta." (Poor child ! your father died for 
his country, but I will replace him, and the lot of 
you and yours will be changed when I return from 
Santa Marta.) Bolivar never returned to Puerto- 
Cabello, but died three years later in Colombia during 
his voluntary exile, and the family of the Admiral 
heretofore have scarcely had that generous treatment 
which was due from the nation in whose cause their 
father fought and died. [The present administration, 
however, has been more liberal to such relics of the 
revolution, and Senorita Brion now receives a pension 
from the Government.] 

Amongst many others who greatly added to my 
collection, I recall with gratitude the numerous gifts 
presented by Senor Manuel Martel — whose disinter- 
ested consideration and care of strangers were well 
known to all travellers in Venezuela. To Dr. Ernst I 
am indebted also for a great many duplicates from his 
valuable cabinet of native minerals, drugs, vegetable 
products, &c. 

The honest ohreros, and indeed not a few of a 
higher grade, were quite unable to understand the 
value of a collection of economic objects, and per- 
plexed me by the queer and worthless things they 
sometimes brought. They could as little comprehend 
the scientific importance of such a gathering, as 
Sancho Panza (who may have been one of their 
ancestors) could comprehend the peculiarities and 
idiosyncrasies of his master. 



270 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xv. 

The absence of all Protestant missionary effort in 
Venezuela struck me as surprising. There was per- 
fect religious liberty, and yet the great societies, 
which formerly kept up the supply of missionaries 
to " the land of the cannibal," never dreamt of sending 
propagandists to this country. The only Protestant 
religious service which took place during my stay in 
Caracas was on Christmas Day, at the house of the 
United States minister. The American eagle had a 
monopoly of proselytizing in that part of the world, 
for the only attempt at a missionary I came across 
was Mr. R. Pearsall Smith, a travelling Yankee beer- 
bottle-maker, who informed me of his anxiety "to 
convert," and willingness "to trade" for orchids, mon- 
keys, and tiger skins. As he was unable to speak a 
word of Spanish, his chances of employing his leisure 
hours in the reclamation of the natives seemed small, 
so I gave him a list of wicked foreigners who could 
not fail to be improved by any change. Mr. Smith 
had seen my collection of curiosities, which suggested 
to him the purchase of the integuments of jaguars and 
pumas. Meeting him a few days after his visit, he 
braei'ijed of his success, and showed me a roll of skins. 
On examination they turned out to ])e very fair 
specimens of the outer natural covering of the calf. 
Seeing his chagrin when he realised that such 
was the fact, one of the " wicked foreigners " who 
was with me said to him, " You are very anxious 
to do some converting ; commence by trying your 
skill in transforming these calf-skins into the 
Genuine article ! " Tlie vessel which bore ]\Ir. Smith 



Chap, xv.j IFAJ^ AND SORROW. 271 

from the shores of Venezuela left La Guayra two 
days after our meeting. 

The Protestants have not even a minister to bury 
them, though there is a small and rather pretty ceme- 
tery belonging to the German residents. At the 
funeral of one of that nation, in the absence of the 
priest of religion, a priest of science — Dr. Ernst — 
pronounced a short but impressive address in the 
mortuary chapel. 

In December occurred the death of the President's 
mother, an event which caused much sorrow in the 
society of Caracas. The occurrence was all the sadder 
from the absence of her favourite son at the seat of 
war. Death is at all times sad, but it is a deepening 
of its pangs when the dear ones are afar off, and no 
word of farewell can be spoken. La Senora Carlota 
Blanco de Guzman held an important position in the 
social life of the capital, not merely from the official 
rank of her husband and son, but from her own birth, 
force of character, and amiability. She was a fine 
example of Spanish noblesse, tempered by the demo- 
cratic sympathies of republican principles. 

So in the midst of war and sorrow closed the year 
1871. 

The year 1872 was still numbered by weeks when 
the news of the Apure victory arrived in Card-cas. Jt 
was hailed with great enthusiasm, and vigorously 
celebrated, as all felt it to be the herald of peace. 
There was no lack of social amusement about this 
date. The popular demonstration on the plains of 
Zamora, where oxen were killed, roasted, cut up, and 



272 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xv. 

distributed amongst the people, took place on the 
1 8th of January. On the 19th there was a grand 
ball at the house of Mr. Sturup, the Danish minister, 
in honour of the visit of the officers of a Danish man- 
of-war, then lying at La Guayra. Dancing was kept 
up until three o'clock in the morning, and the con- 
course of Cardcanian beauty was bright enough to 
have affected with tremors the heart of the sternest 
misogynist. The following evening a dinner was 
given by Mr. Sturup, and nearly all the members of 
the Diplomatic Corps and of the Government were 
of the party. There were plenty of brilliant speeches, 
diversified by a melancholy oration, partaking of the 
nature of a funeral sermon, from Mr. Pile, the American 
minister. Whilst the hours passed so pleasantly, we 
wished that the other ministers would have imitated 
the example of our generous host and amiable hostess, 
who kept up the traditional reputation of ambassa- 
dorial splendour and hospitality in a truly spirited 
manner. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

GOVERNMENT COMMISSION TO THE ISLAND OF ORCHILA. 

Duke. Go one, and call the Jew into the court. 
Salanio. He is ready at the door : he comes, my lord. 

Enter Shylock. 
Duke. Make room, and let him stand before our face. 

— Shakespeare. 

In August 187 1, the President issued a decree cou- 
stituting the islands of the republic into a territory, 
to be called Colon, and placing them under the autho- 
rity of a governor.'" Very little attention had pre- 
viously been paid to the isles ; they had never been 
populated, but served as haunts for smugglers, whose 
operations in times past had proved a great source of 
difficulty to the Government, as the immense and 
almost unprotected coast-line of Venezuela gave every 
facility for the introduction of contraband goods. 
The neglect of the islands appears somewhat remark- 
able, as it was well known that large quantities of 
Orchila weed and Mangle bark were taken from them 
to La Guayra, Puerto-Cabello, and other places. 

A second decreet forbade any further " esplotacion" 

* See Appendix M. for a translation of the decree erecting the 
islands of the republic into a territory. 

t La Opinion Nacional of September 2, 1871, contains this decree, 
dated August 31, 1871. 

VOL. I. S 



274 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xvi. 

without a Government permit, and it was decided to 
send out a scientific commission to investigate the 
nature of the newly-formed territory. There was a 
special reason for this. Soon after my arrival in 
Venezuela the Government had many applications 
from foreign capitalists and speculators, who were 
anxious to make contracts for the extraction of 
guano and mineral phosphatea from the islands of 
the republic. This directed serious attention to 
Colon, the greater part of which had been leased to 
the Philadelphia Guano Company at a royalty of %\ 
per ton on the guano abstracted. A letter in La 
Opinion Nacional, attributed to Mr. Wm. Grange 
of Philadelphia, asserted that the material being 
shipped by the company was selling in the United 
States for I30 per ton, and that it really consisted of 
mineral phosphates, a substance not covered by the 
articles of the lease. 

The first governor appointed for the territory was 
General Mariano Espinal, and Senor Vicente Marcano 
was nominated esplorador. After visiting Orchila, 
they came to the conclusion that mineral phosphates 
were being removed ; but to make assurance doubly 
sure it was decided to send out a second expedition, 
under the charge of the Minister of Public Works. 

Such was the position of affairs in the month of 
January '72, when Caracas appeared to have gone 
mad with joy in celebrating the great victory of 
Guzman Blanco over the Blues. The taking of San 
Fernando and the death of Olivo were felt to be 
decisive, and rockets were sent up with reckless profu- 



Chap, xvi.] A GUANO COMMISSION. 275 

sion to celebrate the double event. Amidst these great 
rejoicings one graceful act of the Government was the 
release of a large number of political prisoners as soon 
as the glad tidings of victory had been verified. 

I called upon Vice-President Garcia to offer my 
congratulations on the good news he had received 
from the Apure, and the probabilites of peace being 
soon restored to the republic. Whilst there I received 
an invitation to accompany the second commission to 
Orchila. If it proved true that the American com- 
pany were removing mineral phosphates as well as 
guano, the Government had decided to annul the 
contract. 

A portion of the expedition left Card-cas very early 
in the morning of the 24th of January to join tha 
remainder at La Guayra. As I had only been in bed 
two hours the beauties of early rising did not charm 
my soul. On the way there was an attempt to be 
lively, but there is a sad pretence of joviality about 
songs and jokes before the mind has well escaped 
from the terrors of the night. Mirth in the grey 
hours of the raw morning is but a mockery of nature. 
The spirit of sadness prevailed, even the mund- 
harmonica, on which Mr. Engel played some lively 
Tyrolese tunes, failed to inspirit us. On went the 
coaches past the Agua Salud, from whence we could, 
by turning, have a fine view of Caracas, and so to 
the cuartel and piaje (toll-bar) of Cdtia, where pass- 
ports were no longer needed. At Guaracarambo we 
changed horses and reached La Guayra at ten o'clock : 
having met seven coaches on the road posting to the 



276 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xvi. 

capita], a pretty good sign, that, as peace had come, 
there would be much more trade and intercommuni- 
cation amongst the people. 

The important commission which left La Guayra 
was composed of the following personages, and took 
its departure amidst the vivas of the multitude, who 
felt what a valuable cargo the republic was intrusting 
to the treacherous deep : — 

Official Members of the Commission. 

Minister of Public Works, . Dr. Martin J. Sanaveia. 

Governor of the Territory of Colon, Gen. Mariano Espinal. 
Secretary to the Governor (Interpreter), Gen. Leon Van Praag. 
Military Engineer, . Gen. Leopoldo Terreeo. 

Esplorador and Chemist, . 
Judge of the Territory of Colon, 
Secretary to the Judge, 
ist Policeman (armed), 
2d <io. ( do. ), 



Seiior Vicente Marcano. 
Sefior Pio Martinez. 
Senor Juan J. Gutierrez. 
A. Billega. 
J. Pelezo. 



Non-Official Members of the Commission. 

Artist, .... Sefior Ramon Bolet. 

Musician, Statistician, and Newspaper ) „ ^ ., .„ 

^ , r r ( Senor Luis Engel. 

Correspondent, . . J 

Guest, .... The Author. 

We crossed the surf in boats, and embarked on board 
the "Portena," a schooner of 125 tons burden, com- 
manded by Captain L. Cadiera, fully manned with a 
crew of eight sailors, and well stored for the voyage, 
as befitting a vessel carrying the representatives of 
the Venezuelan people. 

We got under way about sunset, when the sea was 
undulating with a gentle motion, but all her beaute- 



Chap, xvi.] THE COMMISSION AT SEA. 277 

ous charms were for a time wasted upon the passen- 
gers of the good ship. In vain were all the seductive 
graces of the Caribbean Sea spread before them, their 
eyes rested not upon her beauties, nor were their souls 
filled with the contemplation of her splendours. The 
breeze had stiffened considerably, and the vessel gave 
some very lively lurches, to the serious discomfiture of 
the august members of the commission. Neither the 
sovereignty of the people, nor the supremacy of the 
law, both of which were amply represented amongst 
us, availed against the dreadful marea, and the repre- 
sentatives all took to their bunks. One person was 
so violently affected that his convulsions were said 
to have made the vessel spring a leak — the timbers 
fairly shaking during the height of his paroxysms ! 
The captain reported that the pumps had to be kept 
going on that account during the remainder of the 
voyage ! Our Tyrolese minstrel was mute, his mund- 
harmonica lay neglected, and he crouched in a corner, 
no doubt wishing himself away from Neptune's hills 
and dales, and once more amidst the favourite glens 
and mountain slopes of his revered Hofer. Before 
bedtime the party had somewhat recovered, and be- 
tween attacks essayed some amusement, though the 
efforts were but futile. One by one the pale-faced 
revellers disappeared, and soon were heard only the 
the voices of the night; the snores of the sleepers 
mingled ever and anon with sounds indicative of 
the return, of sea-sickness. It remained an open 
question who was the worst sailor, as the "Judge" 
never left his berth during the whole voyage. 



2.78 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xvi. 

About noon the next day we came in sight of the 
island of Orchihi, and at sunset, when close to it, 
we crossed the track of the Guano Company's little 
schooner " Bouquet," en route for Bonaire, with a 
cargo of negroes, it being the custom every six months 
to change the set of labourers employed on the works. 
We anchored in two and a half fathoms, one hundred 
yards from the shore, near the north-west corner of 
the island, in a lovely bay whicli, from its picturesque 
beauty solely, we named El Bahia de Nuevo 
Napoles (The Bay of New Naples). The range of 
hills rising behind it received the designation of 
Federacion, and had a bare and hungry appearance 
that made me doubt the existence of phosphates, and 
contrasted very strikingly with the rich and varied 
colour of the island of El Gran Koque, whose out- 
cropping mineral was visible from a distance of three 
or four miles. 

As we intended to leave our anchorage very early 
next morning for Cayo El Dorado, the only oppor- 
tunity we had of examining the elevated portion of 
Orchila was by moonlight. Poetry and science do 
not always accord well, and the silver radiance of 
the moon streaming down on the bold hills, and 
upon the fair bay where the rippling waves tenderly 
laved its smooth and sandy shore, made a scene so 
lovely that we might have been pardoned if we had 
given ourselves up to the subdued pleasure of silent 
reverie, instead of attending to the dry details of a 
mineralogical search. However, the temptation to 




a: 

I 



i. 



^ 



Chap, xvi.] THE SO-CALLED GUANO. 279 

pensive thought was abandoned, and the exploration 
commenced. 

From the beach to the hills is an almost barren 
plain of considerable extent, having in many places 
deposits — sometimes hard, at others soft — of a sub- 
stance here termed guano. There was an immense 
quantity of it on the island, but the quality was not 
very good, indeed, it is doubtful if it would have 
yielded much profit on exportation. If it had been 
of a superior quality it is scarcely probable that the 
American Company would have Avorked so slowly at 
its extraction when the demand for a rich phosphate 
is practically unlimited. On examination it was 
clearly not what is commonly known as a compact 
mineral phosphate, nor were there any indications of 
its having originated from the remains of fishes, or 
that in times past the plains of Orchila, like the 
islands of Peru, were the favourite resort of seals on 
the wane. Skeletons of fishing birds were rarely 
found, and this fact, combined with those of its 
colour, its absence of ammoniacal odour, its varia- 
tions in quantity, according to position and exposure 
to prevailing winds, the mechanical condition it as- 
sumes, and the almost inorganic character of its 
composition, show that the so-called guano, contain- 
ing phosphoric acid, is nothing but a very impure 
phosphate of lime, or calcareous tufa. 

The Sierra de la Federacion, whose north-west point 
is situated in lat. 1 1° 48' N., long. 63° 13' W., runs in 
an easterly direction for a mile and a quarter, and rises 
up into five distinct peaks, varyiug from 100 to 200 



280 THE LAND OF BOLIVAK. [Chap. xvi. 

feet in height. The formation is primitive, there 
being no trace at all of volcanic origin, and the mass 
of the hilly range is composed of metamorphic gneiss, 
partaking very much of the character of the foot-hills 
on the opposite coast. I sent three sailors to pick up 
specimens from the entire face of Mount Federacion, 
but amonojst those brouMit back there were none of 
any value. Had phosphate deposits existed, it is very 
probable that, from the wide circuit within which 
the men collected, some traces of them would have 
found their way into the sacks ; on El Gran Eoque 
it would have been difficult to avoid encountering the 
mineral even in the dark. 

On one of the summits we found a number of loose 
shells lying about, and various suggestions were made 
as to the means by which they had been deposited in 
so unlikely a situation. One view was that the shells 
had been so placed that the mollusks might be cooked 
by the heat of the sun, and that the birds came and 
banqueted upon them ; another conjecture was that 
the shells had crawled up the hill to enjoy the fine 
view visible from it ; a third hypothesis attributed 
their presence to the agency of a water-spout ; but 
the mariners assured us that the ladrones (thieves), 
finding the empty shells on the beach dragged them 
up the hill for their adoption into inland summer 
residences. The ladrones are those amusing creatures 
known to the frequenters of Aquaria as hermit crabs. 
The Paguridce, having their abdomens unprotected like 
the other crustaceans, make use of the empty shells of 
mollusks, and even of pieces of sponge in the way in- 



Chap, xvi.] FORMATION OF ORCHIL A. 281 

dicated. The reader has the privilege of selecting 
from the above theories that which appears to him 
most probable. 

The other hills, Libertad and Independeccia, so far 
as could be judged by viewing them at a distance 
through a powerful binocle, appeared to be similar in 
their geological character to that of the Federacion 
range to which they naturally belong, running, as 
they do, in the same line, though distinct elevations. 
The vegetation hereabouts is scarce, and Orchila 
weed far from abundant. We collected some sand 
from the beach, which Marcano considered to be a rich 
phosphate, but a careful inspection with the micro- 
scope convinced me that it was only the detritus of 
shell and coral pulverised by the action of the sea. 

From the structure of the island, which consists 
really of hills of primitive formation, flanked by 
coral beds covered with sand, shells, and phosphate of 
lime, it seems probable that at one time Orchila was 
connected with the Spanish mainland ; when it be- 
came separated coral formation attached itself to the 
island, and, as the waters retired, plains were left from 
the shores to the hills. Here the birds have made 
their homes, and had they been more numerous and 
the climate as dry as that which surrounds the 
Chincha Islands, the deposit would have been richer, 
and might then have established its claim to the name 
of guano. M}^ examination of the main part of the 
island convinced me that it was very unlikely ever to 
become an object of much commercial importance. 

By ten o'clock we had completed our researches ; 



282 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xvi. 

and returned loaded with specimens to the ship, much 
fatigued with the hard work their collection had in- 
volved. 

At daybreak the next morning we weighed anchor, 
and getting under way soon rounded the north-west 
headland of Orchila. I came on deck early, feeling 
stiff and tired from the labours of the previous night, 
but equilibrium was restored by a dose of hydropathy. 
For want of other conveniences I adopted the usual 
bath, sitting on deck whilst the sailors with buckets 




AMERICAN GCAKO COMPANY'S ESTABLISHMRNT ON ORCHILA. 

dashed sea water over me. Los marineros, who, as 
Bolet said, were ^' enter amente puercos" (absolute 
pigs), evidently enjoyed the fun of baptising one 
whose desire for cleanliness amused them exceedingly. 
We passed between the island and the solitary rock 
of Farallon, and then, steering for the north point of 
Orchila, called Cabo Blanco, which we soon doubled, 
the " Portena " entered the smooth waters of the Bay 
of Santa Inez. Before noon we anchored off Cayo El 
Dorado, and went on shore. 



Chap, xvi.] CA YO EL DORADO. 283 

The American company has here a settlement, con- 
sisting of about half a dozen houses, whose roofs are 
all connected with a very large underground cistern, 
which forms the receptacle for the fresh water supply 
of the establishment. The superintendent, Mr. David 
Barrett, placed his residence at the disposal of the 
commission, and was evidently in a state of nervous 
trepidation at the ordeal before him. 

Cayo El Dorado is simply a coral reef, not rising 
more than six or seven feet above low water mark ; 
it would be drowned by an English neap-tide. It 
runs no risk, however, of a watery end, as the " rise 
and fall " in this part of the Caribbean Sea is under 
three feet. The length of this peninsula is about two 
and a half miles, its breadth three-quarters of a mile, 
and it forms an irregular parallelogram, the greater 
part covered with a not very thick deposit of the soi- 
disant guano. This is the only place on Orchila from 
which material has been shipped ; it has here been 
less injured by admixture of debris, which is no 
doubt the reason. The deposits are obtained in the 
following manner. The ground is cleared of what 
slight vegetation exists upon it, and after a few inches 
of sand have been scraped off the surface, the deposits 
thus laid bare are marked out into squares of twenty 
feet. Specimens are taken from each of these for 
analysis in the laboratory, and the result, inscribed on 
wooden tablets, is placed on each square. The average 
per centage of phosphoric acid in the mineral, as shown 
by the books, appeared to be about 22 ; some as low 
as 10, whilst others rose to 32. The '"guano" when 



284 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xvi. 

dug out is carted away, and placed according to 
quality in heaps on the beach near the wharves, ready 
for shipment. It would be impossible to drive piles 
into the submerged parts of the coral reef, so each 
wharf is therefore simply a series of wooden horses 
placed in line, and at short distances apart, until the 
outer one reaches moderately deep water. These are 
then crossed by timbers and planking, the whole being 
nailed together, and weighted on each side with 
stones to keep it firmly in position. The structures 
are further secured by cables running from the ends 
of the wharves to the shore. 

The quantity of " guano " exported from the island 
during the last four years has not exceeded 6000 tons, 
and that which is ready to ship cannot be less than 
12,000 tons, so it would appear that there is not 
a very great demand for the article. According to 
common report its commercial use is to adulterate the 
ouano of Peru for the American market. 

o 

The bay of Santa Inez is well sheltered from the 
prevailing north-easterly winds, and vessels comfort- 
ably riding at anchor a quarter of a mile from the 
shore take in their cargoes from launches. 

Cayo El Dorado is healthy ; although the tempera- 
ture was 90° during our visit and in summer is 
much higher, yet there is always a sea breeze, which 
modifies it considerably. There w^as not much wdld 
and no cultivated vegetation. The rainy season 
lasts from October until January, and in April and 
May the birds come to breed, but during our stay 
we saw very few. It is said that snipe sometimes 



Chap, xvi.] AN INQUISITION. 285 

alight on this island, and are a welcome addition 
to the table of the colonists, but this statement I 
could not verify. The evidences of animal life were 
scarcely visible. There were no rats, as at Los Roques, 
in fact, the place is too poor to find them a living. 
There is not a great variety of fish, we noticed only 
Spanish mackerel, jpargo, barracouta, king-fish, cainte^ 
and some smaller varieties, but mollusks are plentiful. 
The current and winds in December and the two 
following months are so strong as to forbid fishing. 

On the morning of Saturday I arose unrefreshed, 
my share of the hospitality of the island having been 
a part of the store and lumber room (next to the roof) 
of our residence. Old bottles, empty barrels, pitch 
and oil pots, tarred rope, and all possible adjuncts of 
a receptacle for rubbish decorated this place. Many 
and varied were the draughts which came from every 
crevice of that warped and rickety tenement. Two 
of us slept in a sail with a roll of dried codfish for a 
pillow, but General Van Praag had the distinguished 
honour conferred upon him of sharing a bed with the 
superintendent. 

We now came to the special object of the expedi- 
tion. The Judge being too unwell to come on shore. 
General Terrero acted in his place, and presided over 
the examination of the superintendent. The victim 
of the inquisition was an American, of a well-known 
type. One of our company, a Venezuelan, gave a 
description of him, which I will simply quote : — "The 
superintendent is an animal belonging to a species 
not yet classified. His forehead displays about an 



286 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xvi. 

inch and a-half of thought ; his cars are as large as 
those of an elephant ; his face has the puzzled placidity 
of the countenance of a bull ; his hair is close like the 
matted vegetation upon a fertile mountain ; his beard 
resembles a net of tangled seaweed ; his feet are 
masses of shapeless rock ; his eyes a compromise of 
gato y cochino — the first contributing their blueness 




THE VICTIM OF THE INQUISITION. 



and the latter their size. He is a very remarkable in- 
dividual, upon whom Nature has wasted the materials 
of three men. He is dressed in a blue shirt, grey 
trousers of immense width, turned up at the bottom, 
and supported by a pair of elastic braces, which 
every moment threaten to sever his spine. He 
unites in himself the tranquillity of the hurro, the 
majesty of the elephant, and el delicioso recogimiento 
del horracho.'^ In this graphic account the reader 
will allow for the exaggeration, which was quite 



Chap, xvi.] EXAMINATION OF THE AGENT. 287 

destitute of malice, and if the superintendent could 
not be regarded as an Apollo, he proved to be a very 
obliging character. 

The part of the wooden house which was converted 
into a temporary court-room, was plentifully decorated 
with empty bottles, to which the victim, brimful of 
sorrow and dismay, occasionally turned longing eyes, 
as though even the recollection of the gin they had 
once contained was a support and comfort to him in 
this hour of his terrible tribulation. 

Mr. Barrett was found to be quite innocent of any 
knowledge of the Spanish language, and when the 
interpreter, General Van Praag, addressed him in 
Enfjlish he was unable to make him understand. The 
fact was that he knew no language but his " native 
American," and as I had travelled in California and 
other parts of the United States, I was requested to 
act as assistant-translator. The Minister, Governor, 
and Judge having laid their heads together and 
spoken, General Van Praag's questions in English 
immediately followed. These I turned and twisted 
into the Yankee dialect for the benefit of the victim, 
and translated his replies into English again, which 
the interpreter then delivered in Spanish for the 
benefit of the Court. Under these circumstances the 
examination was worthy to be classed for garrulity 
with the notorious Tichborne trial. 

After giving replies to a host of questions bearing 
on every feature of the case, which could not be 
evaded, and which confirmed the suspicions of the 
Government that the shipments were not of guano. 



288 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xvi. 

but phosphate of lime, the commission culminated 
the inquiry by asking : 

"At what date did the birds cease to produce the 
substance you ship and call guano ? " 

To which the victim, after mature deliberation (in 
a voice of sorrow), replied, "I do not know;" and 
on being set at liberty a long deep sigh of relief 
burst from him, as if he were esc"aping from the hands 
of tormentors. 

The commission had now fulfilled the duties with 
which it had been charged, and the next day, Sunday 
the 28th, we embarked early, and with a fair breeze 
made a quick passage home. We entered the port 
of La Guayra a little before eight o'clock, but stayed 
on board the "Portena" until the following morning. 

On our way to Card,cas we heard the news that 
the Blue party had just surrendered Ciudad-Bolivar. 

Thus ended the Government expedition, marked 
by many grotesque incidents which will remain fixed 
on the memory of those who took part in it, and 
interesting from the opportunity it afibrded of study- 
ing the conformation of the well-known though little 
frequented island of Orchila. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

THE VALLEYS OF THE TUY. 



DISTRICTS OF YARE, SANTA TERESA, AND SANTA LUCIA. 

" Ever charming, ever new, 
When will the landscape tire the view ? 
The fountain's fall, the river's flow, 
The wooded valleys, warm and low, 
The windy summit, wild and high, 
Roughly rushing on the sky ! 
The pleasant seat, the ruined tower, 
The naked rock, the shady bower ; 
The town and village, dome and farm, 
Each gives each a double charm, 
As pearls upon an Ethiop's arm." — Dyer. 

In the second week of February I undertook 
another trip to the Tuy to see districts not visited 
on the former occasion. My companions were Mr. 
Leseur, and Mr. Anton Goering, a young German 
naturalist who had been some years in the country. 

At five in the morning, when the sun began to 
" dapple the drowsy east with spots of grey," well- 
devised preparations for the future comfort of the 
travellers were in progress. As the brightening orb 
poured his earliest rays down upon the valley of 
Caracas, we started. After fording the Guaire, at 
some little distance from the river, our road lay 
through a deep cutting in a narrow range of hills 
which stretched out into the valley. At its exit was 

VOL. I. T 



290 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xvii. 

a 'piaje or toll-house, and the cuartel of Las Palomeras ; 
the former a small hut, the latter a fine, large, substan- 
tial building, encircled by a l)road veranda supported 
on stone pillars. From this place we crossed a branch 
of the valley of Cardcas. It was a swampy lowland 
overgrown with rank weeds, and quite out of keeping 
with the wholesome fertility and cultivation of the 
surrounding district. Oasis in the desert it was not, 
rather a desert amidst the oasis. 

In proof of the keen spirit of observation engendered 
by early rising, it may be mentioned that one of the 
party remarked that — " The rivers here all descend, 
and the maximum amount of hilly country we are 
passing through seems to be accompanied by the 
minimum quantity of level land !" 

At Guayabo we found our friend Lovera busy 
cleaning and shipping his crop of coffee, of about 
looo quintales. Having many young trees coming 
forward, he expected each year to increase his pro- 
duction from ten to fifteen per cent. After breakfast- 
ing heartily on " San Cocho " and other good things 
— for Lovera had provided with even more liberality 
than formerly — we took the road again, stopping fre- 
quently to permit our naturalist to add to his col- 
lection of animal, vegetable, and mineral specimens. 

During the course of our journey Mr. Goering made 
a statement which I should hesitate to give upon my 
own authority, but as it was told me by so eminent a 
scientific man, who further testified to its truth by 
making the pictorial representation of it which graces 
the next page, I feel that I should be guilty of an un- 



Chap, xvii.] A SNAKE STORY. 291 

pardonable omission if T did not give publicity to the 
very curious fact in natural history to which Mr. 
Goering's narrative relates. 

Being out botanizing, ornithologizing, and ento- 
mologizing in the mountains of Merida, in company 
with a servant, and whilst in search of specimens, Mr. 
Goering took off his boots to wade after some aquatic 
plants ; on returning to the spot where they had been 
put he found that a snake had bitten one of the 
boots and the poison had already swollen the leather 




THE INCREDIBLE SNAKK ENCOUNTEK IN MERIDA. 



to twenty times its original size. After shooting the 
snake — which now adorns one of the museums of 
Europe — the pair sat down in the interests of science 
and watched the gradual increase of the poisoned 
object. Whilst thus engaged there came on one of 
those heavy tropical showers which convert these 
districts into temporary rivers. As there was no 
other shelter near the two naturalists crept into the 
boot, and there passed a warm and comfortable night 1 



292 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xvii. 

Next morning when they came forth they found that 
the boot had not been sleeping, as it was already 
nearly large enough for a cathedral, and the point 
where the snake's fangs had been set had tapered into 
so graceful an imitation of a spire, that the building 
as it stood, was adapted, without any further alteration, 
into a church, which is now served by the Franciscan 
monks ! ! 

Mr. Goering's first intention was to communicate 
this interesting circumstance to one of the many 
learned societies of which he is so distinguished a 
member, and I esteem it no mean proof of his friend- 
ship that he should allow me to be the first to publish 
so important a contribution to his favourite science ! 

We arrived at Ocumare in the evening, and put 
up at our old quarters, the shop of Senor Medialdea, 
the principal merchant in the town, who is said to 
have been imprisoned more than once in consequence 
of having acquired a weakness for politics, an un- 
fortunate taste — w^hen strongly developed — for a 
commercial man in the republic. His shop was a 
general store, and therefore redolent of heterogen- 
eous odours. 

Next morning we visited a coffee plantation, a fine 
old place, nearly in ruins, known as El Mamon, the 
property of Senor Simon Ugarte, who told me that 
he obtained only 250 quintales from the estate which 
formerly yielded 800. 

Coffee being the chief product of Venezuela it may 
be well to explain the mode of its cultivation. It is 
grown on the elevated plains or mountain slopes at an 



Chap, xvii] SHADE TREES. 293 

altitude of not less than 700 to 1000 feet above the 
level of the sea ; lower it does not thrive so well. The 
crops from lands between 1000 and 3000 feet high are 
most. prolific, yet between the latter height and 5000 
feet, although the produce is not so large the berry is 
the finest. 

The coffee shrub flourishes best under large over- 
hanging trees, which serve as shade to the more deli- 
cate plants. In Brazil coffee is grown in the open, 
but in Venezuela — owing to the long dry season — 
the plant would suffer if it were not sheltered. The 
shrubs are usually grown in diamond-shaped rows, 
about three yards apart, and the trees in the same 
order, at a relatively greater distance from each other, 
lending a beautiful and picturesque appearance to the 
plantation. Of these shade trees there are several 
species used, viz., the Bucare de fuego, or fire-tree 
(Erythrina velutina, E. umbrosa, E. duhia) ; Guamo 
raho de mono, or monkey's tail tree {Inga lucida) ; 
Hueso pescado, or fish-bone tree ; Oi^ore {Inga ligus- 
tina) ; Cedro amargo, or bitter-cedar {Cedrelaodoratd) ; 
Cedro didce, or sweet-cedar {Isica cdtissima) ; Cedro 
bianco del Rio-Negro, or the white-cedar of the Rio- 
ISegro {Amyris altissima) ; Caobo, or mahogany 
{Swietenia mahagoni) ; and the Saman [Saman- 
acacia) ; but the most common is the Bucare. This 
tree casts its leaves about March, after which its 
branches are covered with flowers of a deep ruby 
colour, and so luxuriant is the bloom that it would 
appear truly as if it were bursting into flames. 

To those who may anticipate a practical experience 



294 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xvii. 

of coffee-growing and its pleasures — for all who have 
seen the process will bear me out in saying, that a 
Paradise upon earth could not be more fitly repre- 
sented than by a Venezuelan cofiee plantation — I give 
the following advice : — First, get the land upon which 
to form your plantation. In this you will find no 
difficulty, as there is plenty of land for all who 
choose to possess it. Having got your titles to the 
estate, then make arrangement with one of the neigh- 
bouring peones or native agriculturists to plant it 
with coflfee and shade trees in the usual way. This 
is the formula adopted : 

" There's the land ; plant it for me, and as soon 
as the fruit appears I will pay you for planting ! In 
the meantime you can use the land for your own 
good." 

This the peon generally does by growing the ban- 
ana — one of his staple articles of diet — and other pro- 
ducts between the coffee plants. The banana trees 
serve as a temporary protection to the young and 
tender coffee shrubs till the permanent shade trees 
hav« grown up. 

About November, when coffee-picking takes place, 
many of the grains fall to the ground and germinate. 
These shoots are collected in the following May or 
June and placed in an almdciga — a sort of nursery 
where they have light and air, but are protected from 
the direct rays of the sun. In May or June of the 
third year they may be transplanted to the coffee- 
lands, trees for temporary and permanent shade having 
been already provided. The next year, the fourth, yields 



Chap, xvii.] COST OF COFFEE GROWING. 



295 



a good crop of bananas, but no coffee ; the fifth year 
the plant bears fruit, but the grains are few and in- 
significant ; the sixth year the crop will about pay its 
expenses, and at this stage the young plantation is 
generally taken over by the landlord at the rate of three- 
pence, fourpence, or fivepence, for each shrub, bearing 
fruit, according to the terms of the agreement made 
with the 'peon. The seventh year the harvest is far 
more abundant, and during the eighth the plant arrives 
almost at full maturity, and yields a magnificent crop, 
which repeats itself for thirty years. If then cut 
down it will spring up again, with the strength 
almost of a new plant. 

The cost of production on well-managed estates 
may be estimated as follows : — 



For Cultivation of the coffee plantation 

„ Gathering the crop [La cosecha) 

„ Crushing or bruising the berry between 
rough metal rollers {Maquina para 
descerazar) ..... 

,, Steeping and washing before being sun- 
dried (^La lavadura) 

„ Drying in patio (La secada) 

„ Husking under a large wooden-edged 
roller called a trilla (La trillada) . 

„ Winnowing (La sopladura) 

„ Final processes, clearing the coffee 
grain from all extraneous matter 
(La escogida) 

„ Freight to Caracas (from the Tuy) 

„ Sundry expenses 

Total 



M-oo per quintal. 



•25 

•25 
•35 

•35 
•5 



•35 

1. 00 

.40 



$7.00 



The selling price of cofiee in Caracas during the past 



296 



THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. 



[Chap. 



few years has averaged I20 per quintal (100 lbs.), thus 
leaving a handsome profit to the producer. 

Whilst we were watching the coffee-cleaning, Goer- 
ing secretly slipped two silver coins into one of the 




INDIAN AND DOGS, OF THE TUV. 



heaps. The old Indian workman for whom the na- 
turalist intended them, was very much astonished at 
their appearance, and said they were a special gift of 
God, but whether intended for himself or his master 
Ugarte, puzzled him greatly. When told that they were 
for himself, his pleasure was quite comical to behold. 



Chap. xvii.J TUY INDIANS. 297 

No doubt he regarded this incident as a miracle, and 
as we did not undeceive him, — for had he not as much 
right to enjoy his belief in supernatural favour as any 
one else ? — he has now probably a new saint to re- 
place some of the old ones who have ceased to work 
wonders. This was not the only example he had of 
the power associated with Goering ! This Indian 
workman was a fine type of an almost extinct race, 
and our artist subsequently encountering him on the 
road leading two dogs, commanded him to stand still 
for awhile in order that he might sketch him. His 
astonishment when shown the picture of himself was 
unbounded, and he seemed to dread that a portion of 
his individuality would disappear when the drawing 
was popped into Goering's portfolio. 

In the evening we went to the cottage of a half- 
caste where there was o, fandango (a rough impromptu 
ball). We joined in some of the curious dances, and 
had for partners very pretty girls, whose dark looks 
plainly showed their origin. Fun of a fast and furious 
order was kept up until two o'clock in the morning. 

The next day we rode to Leseur's hacienda of Upper 
Harare, and on the way we met an Indian woman, 
and made some inquiries as to the road we should take. 
In directing us she replied : " The white man depends 
upon his paper, but the Indian woman upon her 
memory." Her map was certainly a good one. On 
the brow of the hill we came upon another of the 
tribe, a little Indian lad about seven years old, totally 
nude, and ugly enough for an imp of the Injierno. 
He was munching sugar-cane with great gusto, and 



298 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xvii. 

one of the party gave a yell to see if he could frighten 
him, but with a countenance perfectly demoniacal 
the lad rushed at his provoker, knife in hand, and 
if his strength had been equal to his will, the ag- 
gressor would have " gone over to the majority " on 
the spot. 

Thousands of paroquets and numbers of humming- 
birds were to be seen as we entered the plantation 
flitting about on the upper branches of the flowering 
shade trees, and the incessant chattering kept up by 
the former w^as far from agreeable. 

The hacienda of Upper Marare was producing up- 
wards of one pound of coffee for each of its 22,000 trees, 
which is considered a very good yield for a young plan- 
tation. The lands of this estate were rich beyond all 
my previous experience, and extensive enough to hold 
above a million trees. It would cost about ^10,000 
to plant that number, but in three or four years, with 
ordinary luck, the outlay should be recouped. 

On the estate is the Choro de Harare, a beautiful 
waterfall with a large pool, in which we refreshed our- 
selves by bathing. 

Late in the afternoon, descending the serranias 
of the Marare by a winding path, we came to a point 
near the brow of a steep hill, and there halted for a 
brief interval to allow Goering to sketch the panorama 
which unfolded itself to our view. The broad un- 
dulating valley of the Tuy, swelling like a summer's 
ocean in all its picturesque beauty, lay smiling at our 
feet. Never before had I beheld Nature arrayed in 
such lovely attire. At the northern extremity of the 



Chap, xvii.] A TROPICAL SUNSET. 299 

landscape the two prominent peaks of the coast range, 
the Silla and the Naiguatd, showed their bold outlines ; 
nearer were seen long, broken, and irregular ranges of 
hills, at whose bases stretched the fields of the Tuy. 
The western sky was all a glow, and the soft yellow 
light, mellowed by the dying rays of the setting sun, 
spread athwart the scene. The broad valley, belted 
here and there by green serpentine bands of vegeta- 
tion, marked the course of the Tuy and its tributary 
streams. It was difficult to think that this landscape, 
so calm and peaceful, had been the theatre of bloody 
war and fratricidal carnage. Serenity and Beauty 
seemed to be Nature's dumb messengers of peace to her 
children — the pity was so few of them could read. 

I had arranged to give a ball to the peasantry of 
the district, and Leseur having offered the use of his 
patio and house of the hacienda of Lower Marare, 
about half-past seven my guests assembled. They 
were Indians, half-breeds, and some pure-blooded 
Venezuelans of the lower class ; the males came on 
foot, and the females on the backs of donkeys. For 
music we had a guitar, a harp, and the guaraguata, an 
Indian instrument made of the round shell of a gourd, 
loaded with shot. When vigorously shaken, it pro- 
duces sounds which are considered very satisfactory 
to those people who prefer quantity to quality. 

My guests appeared to enjoy themselves very 
much, and we had soon about twenty-five couples 
going through the graceful movements of their 
native dances. Some of the brunettes were pretty, 
and their charms were fully appreciated by their 



300 



THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xvii. 



partners, for the mazy dance was kept up into tlie 
" wee short hour ayont the twal." The mothers 
came to look after their daughters, and if it had been a 
Belgravian ball-room instead of thepaizo of a hacienda, 
they could not have been more jealously watched. 
Goering, who had dedicated his life to science, was 




JOSE CARMEN DB OCUMARE. 



much interested in those dark-eyed girls, and w^hen I. 
bantered him upon the closeness of his conversation 
with some of them, he protested that he was deeply 
engaged in anthropological research ; as these brown 
beauties were very interesting ethnological types, 
anthropology seemed to be a very absorbing study, 



Chap, xvii.] GOERING SKETCHES THE NATIVES. 301 

and tlae girls appeared as fond of it as the naturalist, 
Goering's artistic powers also came into play, for he 
drew the portrait of a native humorist of the negro 
type, Jose Carmen de Ocumare, who seemed to sub- 
sist on his powers of making fun, and getting through 
life with all the comfort of a laughing philosopher. 




"FLOR DEL TUV." 



The portrait was a success, and soon the artist was 
surrounded by a bevy of Ocumarenas.. who stood 
watching with wonder and some spice of envy as his 
nimble pencil transferred to paper the graceful form 
of the " Flor del Tuy." In the intervals between 
the dances, papers of cigarettes were handed round, 



302 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xvii. 

and the girls smoked in a coquettish manner and with 
much apparent satisfaction. This was the ouly in- 
stance that came under my notice of smoking by the 
gentler sex, as the women of the better class in Vene- 
zuela do not smoke. During the waltz the musicians 
sang wild improvisations in which the persons present 
were celebrated ; sometimes in terms of eulogy and 
Sometimes with humorous sarcasm. Two of our 
party were thus metrically advised to follow the ex- 
ample of the third and take each a Venezuelan woman 
for wife, and make the Venezuelan land his home ! 

The next morning we were all tired with the 
exertions of the previous day and night, and indis- 
posed for much work ; Goering, however, went round 
the pueblo sketching the types of the different races 
who lived in it, whilst I accompanied him direct- 
ing his studies and criticising his subjects, thus 
taking my share in the induction of this branch 
of the fine arts into the valleys of the Tuy. Some 
little amusement was drawn from the lamentable 
spectacle of a group of little children who were 
tumbling about in all the glories of nudity and dirt. 
The amount of demoralization which can be produced 
by the distribution of a few cents is great, and is 
sufficient to make the most hopeful despair of human 
nature when all the passions of humanity could be 
roused in these urchins by jealousy. 

In the afternoon we were introduced to General 
Joaquin Herrera, who had come from Cua with a 
guard of honour to accompany us to Santa Lucia. 
Goering was missing during a portion of the evening, 



Chap, xvii.] 



ON SNAKES. 



303 



but returned with an eloquent account of the glorious 
moonlit scene he had witnessed on the banks of the 
river Tuy. 

The following day we started early for Santa Lucia. 
The military guard which left Ocumare with us, con- 
sisted of about lOO infantry and a dozen mounted 
lancers, with two officers at their head. General 




DEATH OF THE SNAKE. 



Herrera, who was riding beside me, had his attention 
directed to a snake by the wayside which was en- 
twined round a great lizard. Without dismounting 
he borrowed a lance from one of his troopers and 
with it pierced the head of the snake, raising aloft 
the repulsive creature and its prey on the point of 



304 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xvii. 

liis weapon. Tliis was a dexterous feat considering 
the smallness of the reptile and the instrument with 
which it was accomplished. 

Contrary to the general opinion, snake-bites are but 
seldom fatal in Venezuela. Medical science has pro- 
bably yet to learn something from the remedios used 
by the people, and preserved traditionally in the in- 
fected districts. 

My intercourse with snakes has been of a limited 
character, but one incident I shall not soon forget. 
Some years ago in Lake County, California, whilst 
enjoying with a friend an open-air siesta, our repose 
was interrupted by a gentle rattling sound. Looking 
round we saw a fine rattlesnake, which seemed, from 
the course he was steering, desirous of making our 
acquaintance. I called my friend's dog, and the clever 
animal flew straight at it, caught it by the middle, 
and in less time than it takes to narrate the circum- 
stance, the deadly reptile had been bitten through by 
the teeth of " Faithful " and the pieces scattered to 
right and left. Next day, at the mouth of a tunnel, 
we came upon a serpent, variegated in colour, but 
harmless in character. The dog could distinguish 
friends from foes, and in place of trying to kill it, 
contented himself with pawing it about in a jocular 
manner. Was this instinct or reason ? 

On our way through the valleys of the Tuy we 
stayed several times under the trees to take a 
''remedio." It is astonishing how many infirmities 
one is afflicted with on such a journey ! At San 
Francisco de Yare we halted for breakfast, our host 



Chap, xvii.] ABSENTEEISM. 305 

being the military chief of the district. Afterwards 
we fraternized with the army and very soon at my 
instigation improvised military sports were going on 
with great spirit ; but the captain soon put a stop to the 
leaping, jumping, racing, &c,, explaining to me that 
such luxurious pastimes always demoralized soldiers. 
At the time the thermometer stood at 88° in the shade ! 

The district of San Francisco de Yare contained 
thirty-two estates, two of which had disused cacdo 
haciendas ; eleven, with coffee-trees, had passed out of 
cultivation ; and twelve in working order produced on 
an average 147 quintales each. There were also five 
new coffee plantations which had not borne fruit, 
and two sugar estates which only produced a small 
quantity of sugar-cane. 

War has proved more disastrous to this large dis- 
trict than perhaps to any other in the valley, and the 
non-residence of the landowners is another crying 
evil. Many proprietors in Venezuela whom I have 
met could not tell me to within 5,000 to 10,000 
acres the extent of their own estates. If they were 
compelled to reside on them with their families for 
half the year it would be an advantage both to them- 
selves and their workpeople. The landowners would 
then be centres from whicli moral sentiment and 
social refinement would radiate ; the people would 
look to them for the guidance and help they so 
greatly lack ; and an honourable career would be 
opened for the younger members of their families, 
now, alas ! wasting their time in the capital. 

In the afternoon we came to the village of Santa 

VOL. I. u 



30G THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. 



Teresa, which is almost circular in form, and con- 
tains a dilapidated church. There was a certain air 
of forced respectability about the place, and also evi- 
dences of the wretchedness that often accompanies it. 
The Santa Teresa district included six coffee planta- 
tions, with an aggregate produce of 435 quintales ; 
two sugar estates having 140 acres under cultivation ; 
one cotton plantation producing 200 quintales ; and 
four grazing farms. 

Between Santa Teresa and Santa Lucia there lies a 
beautiful and amazingly fertile district, enriched by 
many plantations. The Guaire falls into the river 
Tuy between these two places. Our road now followed 
the course of the Guaire, sometimes on one bank and 
sometimes on the other, and very often in the bed of 
the stream itself. The inhabitants of this corner of 
the Tuy valley regard the overflow of their river with 
difi'erent feelings to those with which the Egyptians 
resfard the rise of the sacred Nile, for the Guaire is 
not navigable, and when it rises it forms an obstacle 
to land-transport for which the bed of the river is 
used, and when it overflows its banks numerous are 
the plantations entirely ruined by the catastrophe. 
The valley of Santa Lucia joins the eastern end of 
the valley of the Tuy, and forms a magnificent land- 
scape as seen from the heights. 

Towards sunset we reached Milagro, our destina- 
tion, the residencia del campo of General M. D. 
Rivero, situated in the suburbs of the town of Santa 
Lucia, and approached through an avenue of lemon 
trees, backed by a double row of tall imperial palms 



Chap, xvii.] SANTA LUCIA. 307 

which gave grace aud beauty to the place, and re- 
minded the beholder of the entrance to Fairy-land. 

After dinner, the whole party, including the Gene- 
ral's family, sat under the wide corridor enjoying the 
beautiful night, and talking about the affairs of the 
land. Although the military element was in force 
I was, as all through the excursion, the apostle of 
peace, urging upon every one its absolute necessity. 

The fatigue experienced from our thirty miles' ride 
was very apparent the next day ; we therefore rested 
most of the time under the shade in the plantation 
of General Rivero, and watched the ever-interesting 
work going on amongst the coffee and cacdo trees. 
In the afternoon we dragged ourselves to the top of 
a steep hill from which we got a charming view of 
the valley and the surrounding country. The fertility 
seemed almost beyond compare, and the beauty on 
all sides was everything that the heart could desire. 

There were forty-nine coffee estates in the district 
of Santa Lucia ; twelve of them produced cacdo, 
and three of them sugar ; one cac^o estate where 
sugar was also cultivated, and one exclusively devoted 
to the cane. Five estates had been abandoned or were 
only used for grazing purposes. The total annual 
coffee crop amounted to 788 1 quintales, an average of 
about 1 60 quintales for each hacienda. The cacdo pro- 
duced was 800 quintales ; and there were about 300 
acres under sugar-cane. 

This district lies somewhat out of the beaten track 
of revolution. The town of Santa Lucia had a large in- 
dustrious working population, and intelligent owners 



308 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xvii. 

Avliowere not asliamed of looking personally after their 
own properties. Two estates, El Volcan and Santa 
Cruz, both belonging to Senor Juan Bautista Machado, 
were considered to be the model plantations of the 
republic. 

Before sunrise, on the morning after our day of 
rest, we left the hospitable mansion of Milagro, where 
we had agreeably passed two days, and soon came upon 
the river Guaire, whose course as it led into the 
mountains we followed for some distance. The road 
now wound along in zig-zag ftishion and rose very 
rapidly, the highest point being 3500 feet above the 
level of the sea. Near the summit was the fine coffee 
plantation owned by Mr. Carlos Hahn of Caracas 
and managed by a German, who had there opened 
a very respectable posada. After repast and rest 
at this establishment I felt that I had a much better 
opinion of the Teutons than before, excluding there- 
from only Goeriug Avhen he showed me the sketch 
he had made for the amusement of the landlord and 
Leseur of "England's representative in Trujillo !" 

Our road on to Petare led throuirh the famous 
coffee district of Los Mariches, where my friend Senor 
Emilio Yanes owns much laud, half of which he 
would willingly make over to immigrants who would 
agree to settle upon it. We passed the large coffee 
plantation of General Rafael Pacheco, which is said 
to be the most productive in this department of the 
State of Bolivar, and through the kindness of the 
dueno (proprietor) I am able to vouch for the excel- 
lency of the coffee grown thereon. Owing to its proxi- 



Chap, xvii.] THE VALLEY OF CARACAS. 



309 



mity to the capital Los Maricbes has not suffered from 
absenteeism. From the road leading down to Petare 
we could see an immense tract of country ; below 
iay the village, and beyond, looking westward, was 
the city of Card,cas, with its large valley intervening, 
hounded on the north by the Silla and the Naiguatd, 
mountains of the coast chain, and south by the broken 
ranges dividing the valle3's of Caracas and Tuy. The 
rays of the sun descending towards the horizon gave 
a splendour to the landscape, for corn-fields, suo-ar- 
cane lands, woods of the glowing bucare, forest, vale, 
mountain, town, and village, were all tinged with his 
golden beams, and made a picture which can never 
be forgotten. After a short stay at Petare we reached 
Sabana Grande, where we called upon Senor Lisboa, 
and then proceeded to Caracas. 

The statistical details given in relation to the Tuy 
are the result of an inquiry made at my instigation 
by Senor Carlos Patrullo, one well qualified for the 
work. The Tuy valley entire contains 204 estates. 
The cofiee produced annually in the various districts 
may be thus stated : — 



Districts. 


Number 

of 
Estatts. 

40 
32 
38 
10 

15 
56 
13 


Number 

producinfr 

Coffee. 


Quantity of 

ColTee produced 

annually. 

j 


Ocumare 

Yare 
Cua . . 
Tacata . 
Charallave . 
Santa Lucia . 
Santa Teresa 


28 
12 

27 

4 
13 

49 
6 


6,792 quintules. 1 

1,774 
8,300 
1,140 
2,460 
7,881 
435 


204 


139 


28,782 quintales. 



310 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap. xvii. 

The money value of the produce was $575,640, 
or an average of about $4140 for each hacienda. 

I was very much impressed during my visit with 
the productiveness of the Tuy valley. It has all the 
bounteous fertility and loveliness associated in our 
minds with the lost Paradise. No richer soil exists, 
and with paz, hrazos y dinero (peace, labour, and 
means), it might become one of the principal food 
producing centres of the world. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

PEACE CELEBRATIONS IN THE CAPITAL. 

" Down the dark future, through long generations, 
The echoing sounds grow fainter, and then cease ! 
And, like a bell, with solemn, sweet vibrations, 
I hear once more the voice of Christ say, * Peace !' 

" Peace ! and no longer from its brazen portals 
The blast of War's great organ shakes the skies. 
But, beautiful as songs of the immortals, 
The holy melodies of love arise." 

— Longfellow. 

I ALWAYS returned to Carjicas with renewed plea- 
sure after my various excursions into the country. 
The social life of the capital had an agreeable variety 
about it which I exceedingly enjoyed. The oppor- 
tunity now offered itself of seeing the city in high 
fiesta, one of those kind of rejoicings about which we 
in England by experience know nothing. 

The victory of the Apure was felt to be the close of 
one, and the beginning of another, era. Although the 
Blues might prolong the struggle for a time its result 
was beyond doubt for the triumph of the Liberals 
was considered by all complete. When the President 
returned to the capital " covered with the green 
laurels he had gathered on the malarious swamps of 
the Apure, and on the deadly banks of the Arauca," 
there was every disposition to give him an enthusiastic 



312 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap 



welcome. It was not only the great captain of the 
nation that the people hailed, but the man wlio held 
out the olive-branch of peace to a country torn and 
distracted by civil strife. 

His progress to Caracas on his return from the 
campaign was a series of ovations. The diflferent 
villages through which he j^assed received him with 
the greatest enthusiasm. Three days before his 
arrival in Card,cas the city was converted into a 
workshop by the preparations made for his advent. 
Doors and windows were hung with banners and 
wreaths ; and the public buildings w^ere artistically 
adorned with flowers, flags, lamps, and lanterns. In the 
evening the streets were crowded by the multitude 
who had turned out to see the whole city in a blaze of 
artificial light, and illuminated with almost noonday 
brightness. The route by w^hich General Guzman was 
expected to make his entrance had of course received 
special attention; floral arches, silken flags, and pictures 
wreathed with roses and laurels, decked the way. 

In the Plaza de San Pablo stood a grand triumphal 
arch, designed by Ramon Bolet, the first of its kind 
ever raised in Venezuela. On this arch were pictures 
representing the meeting of the difierent contingents 
of the grand army, the attack on the Caiio de Guariapo, 
the Caiio Amarillo, and the rout of the Blues at 
Arauca. An inscription dedicated the arch to the 
victorious army of the Apure and its leader. The 
President on his approach to the capital sent forward 
the triumphal car prepared for him, and rode into the 
city on horseback. In response to the cheers of the 



Chap, xviii.] SPEECH OF THE PRESIDENT. 



313 



people, he addressed them iu words at once 
earnest and impressive : . . . " Venezuela is now 
entering upon the true path of peace and progress, 
and the nation will quickly take her proper place 
amongst the republics of the new world. To this 
end I pledge my word, and to it I dedicate my 
strength." 




THE TRIUMPHAL ARCH. 



The Plaza de Bolivar in the evening was all brilliant 
with lights, flowers, and laurels. In the centre of the 
square stood a simple and elegant monument, which 
served as an altar for the bust of Bolivar and for the 
portrait of the President ; it was decorated with gar- 
lands of palms and flowers, and trophies of the late 



314 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap, xviii. 



battles. In all directions were to be seen waving 
the tricolour of the young Republic. Tlie foun- 
tains, standing one at each corner of the Plaza re- 
presenting the four seasons, were converted into four 
statues of Spring by the floral robes in which they 
were attired. Round the Plaza runs a footpath lined 
with trees. Wire ropes had been passed from branch 
to branch, and on these an immense number of 
Chinese lanterns were hung, which, when lighted, gave 
fairy enchantment to the scene. It was a genuine 
ovation. The decorations, the crowded streets, 
the children carrying wreaths of flowers, the bells 
ringing, the guns discharging, the music, and the 
shouts of Viva la Paz ! ''Viva el Gran Pacijicador !" 
all seemed to show that the people were half-mad 
with joy, and had determined to give the victor of 
the Apure the heartiest possible reception. 

On calling upon the President with some Venezuelan 
friends, he expressed his regret that I had not been 
with him in the Apure to have seen the decisive 
battle, and the famous llanos of that state. 

Speaking of the war he said : " Peace is now virtu- 
ally restored to the republic as the oligarchal party 
is at its last gasp; its great army from which so 
much was expected has been completely routed, and 
all that remains of it are insignificant fragments 
roaming about as guerilla bands." 

The return of the President was the signal for 
much social rejoicing, and it required a strong con- 
stitution to withstand the efifects of the numerous 
dinner-parties and balls for which it formed the excuse. 



Chap, xviii.] BANQUET TO THE VICTORS. 315 

At oue of these gatherings the seventeen guests 
who were round Leseur's table, included only one 
Anglo-Saxon, myself, and yet all of them spoke our 
language. I remarked that this was a great compli- 
ment to my country, but a German next to me 
demurred, and said, "Foreigners are obliged to learn 
English, as your countrymen are unable to acquire 
any language but their own." My health was drunk 
as the youngest person in the company. According 
to the calendar used on such occasions, I was just a 
year old, it being the anniversary of my arrival in 
Venezuela. 

On the 6 th of March the Alto Comer do, princi- 
pally foreigners, offered the President, his cabinet, and 
the generals-in-chief of his army, a banquet at the 
Hotel Parodi. As aliens, the merchants could not be 
expected to be political partizans, the dinner was felt 
therefore to be an expression of their confidence in tlie 
stability of the coming peace. The diplomatic corps 
was invited to attend, but most of its members 
declined. Whilst the wisdom of not identifying 
themselves with any specific party cannot be doubted, 
yet their refusal was to be regretted, for in celebrating 
a peace it is necessary not to forget the peacemakers. 
The great hall of the hotel had been decorated and 
prepared for the occasion with a due regard to artistic 
effect ; but though the embellishments were showy, 
the viands were bad, and the service worse. The 
contractors must have realised a handsome profit, for 
they were well paid, and the catering was atrocious 
when compared with many of the public banquets (1 



31G 



THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap, xviii. 



attentled) at the Cafe del Avila, managed by Senor 
Ildefonso Meseron y Aninda, and at the Hotel Saint 
Arnand, by the Sefiora St. Amand. If the service 
was bad, the speaking was good, and all present ex- 
pressed sentiments of hope for peace and progress. 
On the following day the President, accompanied by 





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RIO CATUCHE. 



his cabinet, the officials of the Government, and many 
of the leading citizens of Caracas, went in state to the 
Cathedral, where a Te Deum was sung to celebrate 
the late victory. It is an impressive sight to see 
those whose front was hiirh and fearless in the battle 



Chap, xviii.] PJCNIC OF THE LITERATI. Z\\ 



bowed down before the name which Christians 
adore. 

" They kneel, and through the fluttering air 

Melodious thunder swells and rolls, 

And from that mass of human souls 
Bursts forth — because those men afar 
Were slaughtered in a bloody war — 

Thanks to the living God !" 

Of all the social festivities the most pleasant was a 
trip to Catuche. This is a small valley or ravine to 
the north of Caracas, and through it flows the little 
stream of the Catuche that supplies the town with 
water. The party was chiefly composed of the literary 
men of the capital : Generals Kamon de la Plaza, Pedro 
Toledo Bermtidez, Nicanor Bolet Peraza, Leopold© Ter- 
rero, and Diego Hugo Kamirez ; Doctors Santiago Ter- 
rero de Atienza and Rafael Dominguez; and Senores 
Eamon Bolet and Adolfo and Eduardo Blanco. If the 
place had been destitute of all attractions of its own 
we should still have had a " good time." The scenery 
was, however, very fine, and added to the intellectual 
pleasures which formed the chief attraction of the day, 
for amongst those j^resent we had talent of varied de- 
scriptions, and in the course of our excursion Fiction, 
Poetry, Tragedy, and Burlesque, contributed to our 
gratification.^'' Bolet was busy sketching some of the 
beautiful bits of scenery which surrounded us, whilst 

* Two of the stories which were given at the picnic by the name- 
sake of the great Bermudez were as follows : — 

" During the War of Independence General Jose Francisco Bermiidez 
was stationed in Cumana with looo soldiers. The roytdist forces whom 
he resolved to attack were estimated at 4000. Bermudez having mounted 
his horse, rode up to his own troops and addressed them to the follow- 
ing effect : ' The enemy is 4000, you are 1000, and I, myself, am equal 



318 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap, xviii. 

other pencils less facile thau his own were occupied in 
caricaturing the party present. An old. copcy tree 
covered with creepers, standing close by, formed our 
head-quarters. Here, from a tribune of logs addresses 
were delivered. Not the least important part of the 
day's proceedings was the cooking of the "San Cocho." 
It is an old proverb, that too many cooks spoil the l)roth, 
but it does not always hold good, for every one took 
part in the prepartion of the national dish and ex- 
cellently it turned out. Ramon Bolet, amongst other 
sketches, made one of Los Mesedores, where the 
youths of Caracas come to swing amidst the trees ; 
nature providing them with ropes. 

The week following the celebrations, the German 
minister, Von Gulich, gave an evening party, wdiicli 
was a brilliant affair of its kind, many members of 
the diplomatic corps were present and were enter- 
tained with tea by their fellow-ambassador. About 
the same date there were several earthquakes : two 
shocks were felt on the 12 th, one of them being very 
severe. 

The Venezuelan Commission for the Exhibition of 
London, of which I was a member, held its meetings 
in my rooms. Eventually the republic was not 
represented at the great international show, as the 
objects selected for 1872 were not amongst the staple 
products of the country. ■^^" 

to 3000 ; the victory must be ours ! ' — and it was so, for the larger 
force capitulated." 

And again : " Bolivar was almost hopelessly worsted in Barcelona, 
when Bermudez came to save him. They embraced after the fight, when 
Bolivar said to Bermudez, ' You are the Lihertador del Lihertador ' 
(Liberator of the Liberator)." 

* At the Vienna Exhibition, Venezuela received several prizes. 



Chap, xviii.] DEATH OF PADRE BLANCO- 319 

On the i8tli of March died Padre Blanco, dear 
to Venezuela in his double character of priest and 
patriot. He was the last survivor of that noble band 
which proclaimed the independence of the New World. 
As a priest he was loved for the purity of his 
character, whilst the distinguished patriotism which 
actuated him is best shown by the fact, that, after 
having been the custodian of the national treasury, he 
died at the age of ninety leaving no other wealth 
than the collection of facts coucerning his friend 
Bolivar, which he left to be made use of in any future 
history that might be written of the Liberator. 
Blanco was truly a member of the Church Militant, 
and accompanied the army of Bolivar in the entire 
course of its varied fortunes in the sanguinary 
struggle that ended in breaking the yoke of Spanish 
oppression and misrule. He had the advantage that 
very few enjoy, of heariug the verdict of four genera- 
tions upon the deeds to which he had devoted the 
energies of his manhood. Seventy years given to the 
service of his country entitled him to the respect- 
ful affection of his compatriots, which was univer- 
sally accorded. Although his death at his advanced 
age could not be unexpected, it produced a painful 
sensation in the capital, and the mourning for the 
honest old patriot was universal. 

He was a member of a charitable fraternity which 
in the ordinary course would have conducted his 
funeral, but in the case of the last survivor of the 
men who, on the 19th April 18 10, had commenced 
the gigantic work of South American independence. 



320 THE LAND OF BOLIVAR. [Chap, xviii. 

it was thought only fitting that the State should ac- 
cord him funeral honours. In the absence of the Presi- 
dent, the venerable Senor Antonio L. Guzman attended 
as chief representative of the nation. Many members 
of the cabinet, clerical dignitaries, and a host of dis- 
tinguished citizens, were also present. The military 
forces of the capital marched with the national ban- 
ner furled and bordered with black crape, whilst the 
band played martial music. It was five o'clock in the 
afternoon when the funeral procession left the casa 
mortuoria and passed through the crowded streets 
(the body lying on the bier with the face exposed to 
view) to the Cathedral, where the last solemn ser- 
vices were sung over the dead. This part of the cere- 
mony did not end until eight o'clock in the evening.* 

With reverential feelings the mourners committed 
to the kindly keeping of mother earth, one, who 
through good and evil report, had toiled and struggled 
with all the simplicity and austerity of a Spartan 
republican for his fatherland. 

The Semana Santa (Holy Week) was celebrated on 
a grander scale in Caracas than in Barcelona, where I 
had participated in the ceremony in the previous 
year. The Venezuelans, as I have observed before, 
are a religious people after their fashion, although 
that fashion varies from the English one. To an out- 
sider it appeared that religion and recreation divided 
the time between them, for the spectators, like myself, 

* At funerals in Venezuela it is usual for a near relative of the 
deceased to stand at the church door, and shake hands with all who 
have attended and thank them individually for being present. 



Chap, xviii.] LA SEMANA SANTA. 321 

were almost as great in number as the devotees of the 
Holy Week of 1872, which was one of the most im- 
pressive that had been for some years. The town was 
crowded with people, and at five o'clock in the even- 
ing the worshippers issued from the church and 
paraded the streets and squares until midnight, when 
they returned to their starting point. Each evening 
this was repeated, but the churches had divided the 
days amongst themselves, so that on Wednesday the 
procession started from the Cathedral, and on Thurs- 
day from San Pablo. The last named is considered 
to be the most stately of all. 

The ceremony of oflfering the key of the Santuavio 
to the representative of the people was performed on 
Thursday and Friday. The President of the republic, 
or, in his absence, the next highest official, receives 
from the Head of the Church a golden key which un- 
locks the Sanctum Sanctorum in which is kept the 
consecrated host. This key the chief magistrate 
hangs round his neck by a golden chain and wears 
during the procession. 

The religious festival concludes with the execution 
of the traitor Judas whose similitudes stufi'ed with 
fireworks are ignominiously exploded in nearly every 
square. These images are not infrequently made the 
vehicle of expressing personal or political dislike. 

The civil war has not prevented some attention 
being paid to literature ; several of the prominent 
public men having wielded the pen of the journalist. 
Under the circumstances the number of periodicals 
and the ability with which they were conducted 

VOL. I. X 



322 



THE LAND OF BOLIVAA'. 



[Chaj). 



seemed to me highly creditable to the people. The 
following titles are transcribed from copies in my 
possession, most of which were presented to me by 
Dr. S. Terrero de Atienza : — 



Name. 
La Opinion Nacioiial the (chief 

paper in the repuhlic, and the 

Gcivernmeiit organ) 
El Labrador (Industrial) . 
El Abece (Educational) 
La Rivista (Purely Literary) 
Gaceta Mazonica de Venezuehi 

(Freemason's Journal) . 
Registro Oficial del Estado Boli 

var (Official) . 
Diario del Comercio (Commer 

cial) .... 
El^Comercio (Commercial) 
El Carabobeno (Political) . 
La Discusion (Political) 
Gaceta Oficial (Official) 
El Orden (Political) 
El Pobrecito Hablador (Politi- 
cal) .... 
La Opinion Liberal (Political) 
Boletin Oficial (Official) . 
El Liberal (Political) . 
La Causa del Pueblo (Political; 
Gaceta Oficio de Guarico (Offi 

cial) .... 
El Monitor (Political) 
El Porvenir (Political) 
El Liceo (Political) . 
Boletin Oficial (Official) . 
La Concordia (Political) 





WTaere Published. 


Caracas:. 


State of Bolivar 


Do. 


Do. 


Do. 


Do. 


Do 


Do. 



Do. 



Do. 



Do. 



Do. 



La Guayra. 


Do. 


Puerto-Cabello. 


State of Carabobo 


Valencia. 


Do. 


Do. 


Do. 


Ciudad-Bolivar. 


State of Giiayana 


Do. 


Do. 


San Fernando. 


State of Apure. 


Do. 


Do. 


Maracaybo. 


State of Zulia. 


Do. 


Do. 


Calabozo. 


State of Guarico. 


Do. 


Do. 


San Cristobal. 


State of Tachira. 


Cumana. 


State of Cumana. 


Coro. 


State of Coro. 


Trujillo. 


State of Trujillo. 



The Academia Espanola, the authority that for 
generations has watched over the purity and progress 
of the Spanish language, resolved in 1870 to give 
liberty to its members in South America to form 



Chap, xviii.] LA AC AD EMI A ESPA^OLA. 323 

auxiliary societies, under the title of Academias corre- 
spondientes. These were to be in intimate association 
with the body at Madrid, and the initiative was in 
all cases to be taken by not less than three of those 
who were already its corresponding members. In 
Colombia an academy of this nature was formed, but 
in Venezuela it was found impossible. The reason 
was, that although there was an adequate number of 
members of the academy amongst the literati of the 
republic, they were not all in the country ; one was 
travelling in France, another was at Lima, and a third 
in England, so that there was not a resident nucleus 
sufficient for the purpose. 



END OF VOL. I. 



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